(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 13 April 2008:

1. On behalf of both himself and the Government, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wished the Jewish people a happy and kosher Passover.

2. Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra and senior Environmental Protection Ministry officials briefed the Cabinet on the scope of the ministry’s activities, especially regarding Earth Day  and the struggle to counteract global warming and limit the emission of greenhouse gases.

3. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and National Infrastructures Ministry officials briefed the Cabinet on the country’s water economy. Prime Minister Olmert noted Israel’s globally recognized expertise in water technology.

4. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Finance Ministry Director-General Yoram Ariav briefed the Cabinet on developments in the Israeli economy in light of the global economic situation, including the financial crisis and capital market developments. They emphasized that Israel was entering a period of moderate growth, on the basis of a stable economy.

Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Stanley Fischer and National Economics Council Chairman Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg also discussed the foregoing and expressed confidence in the Israeli economy.

Prime Minister Olmert noted that while real growth was smaller than it has been in previous years, this must be seen in the context of developments in the international arena. He said that this was a major achievement for Israel and attests to the stability of its economy.

5. The Cabinet voted to disband the Strategic Affairs Ministry and distribute its responsibilities among other ministries and bodies.

6. The Cabinet decided to establish – within the Interior Ministry – the Immigration and Border Crossings Authority, to replace the Population Authority, and which will be responsible for implementing Government policy regarding foreign nationals and population affairs. The new Authority’s responsibilities will include those of the Population Authority as well as those that the Government may assign to it.

7. The Government discussed the issue of threshold qualifications for ministry directors-general.

8. The Cabinet instructed Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to work towards an arrangement for the allocation of an additional 5,000 employment permits for Palestinians from Judea and Samaria, in the construction sector. Issuing the permits will be subject to security restrictions and security establishment criteria. The foregoing shall be subject to periodic review by the aforementioned ministries and will require annual Government approval.

At present, approximately 20,000 Palestinians have permits to work in Israel, with approximately 14,000 in the construction sector. In light of demand for additional workers, the Cabinet decided to authorize an additional 5,000 permits.

9. The Cabinet amended its 5 November 2006 decision on the establishment of new communities in the Halutza area.