(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 15 June 2008:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Last Wednesday, 11 June 2008, the Security Cabinet made decisions regarding the Gaza Strip. As you know, this issue has topped our agenda for a very long period. The continuation of terrorism from Gaza – Kassam terrorism, suicide attacks, infiltrations and shooting – is intolerable. The Government of Israel has reiterated that we must bring about a situation in which we uphold the most fundamental obligation of all governments toward their citizens, i.e. a response to their security problems, a halt to the daily threats that disrupt the lives of the many residents who live in that area.

There was an orderly decision-making process that began with the appropriate security, military and political consultations. In the end, I was determined that there be an appropriate decision, which die to its implications and its importance, had to be made by the constitutional body, according to which the Government makes decisions. In this case, the body was the Security Cabinet. Therefore, I insisted that the issue be decided upon by that body, as required, because it is self-evident and certainly stems from the conclusions that the Government decided to adopt in wake of the recommendations of the Winograd Committee, the sections of which referred to decision-making procedures, we certainly said that we would accept. Thus we have done; I think that we acted correctly. I can also say that we acted in accordance with the recommendations that we received from various bodies, several of which were outside the Government at the time the events occurred and which held that the way to make such decisions was not in smaller, transitory forums.

This is a complicated and complex decision. It precisely defines the Government of Israel’s position regarding the cessation of Gaza Strip-based terrorism and I very much hope that this decision will indeed lead to a halt to such terrorism in accordance with the criteria that we have set. If it is possible to halt it this way, all the better. If, to our regret, terrorism is not halted this way, then the Government of Israel will know to use other means as well. In any case, no other element or consideration, including political considerations, will delay the implementation of this decision and remarks made in this context were unnecessary and baseless.

It is important to point out that the Israeli demand to advance the release of Gilad Shalit is an inseparable part of the effort to achieve calm in the south."

2. Prime Minister Olmert referred to yesterday’s accident in which Galilee residents Ismail and Najuan Khualed, and their daughter Eden, were killed, and their infant son Tamir was seriously injured. The Prime Minister called on all Israelis to drive safely and commended the efforts of Transportation and Road Safety Minister Shaul Mofaz in the war on road accidents.

3. Science, Culture and Sport Minister Raleb Majdele and senior ministry officials briefed the Cabinet on the ministry’s achievements in 2007 and on its goals for 2008.

4. Pursuant to Article 21 of the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments) and in accordance with the recommendation of the Civil Service Committee, the Cabinet decided to exempt from public tender the post of Director of the Prime Minister’s Office Conversion Authority.

5. Pursuant to Article 5 of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provision) the Cabinet decided to extend its validity by one year, until 31 August 2009. The foregoing will be submitted for Knesset approval.

Pursuant to Article 3d of the Law, and on the basis of opinions by authorized security elements, the Cabinet determines the Gaza Strip to be an area in which activity is being carried out, which is liable to endanger the security of the State of Israel and its citizens. Therefore, the Cabinet instructs the Interior Minister, or whoever is so authorized, not to approve the granting of permits to reside or stay in Israel as per Articles 3 and 3a of the Law, to those registered as residents of the Gaza Strip or to those who reside in the Gaza Strip even though they are not registered as residents. The foregoing does not apply to those whose requests have already received preliminary approval.

The Law became valid on 3 August 2003 and was legislated in accordance with the Cabinet’s 12 May 2002 decision regarding persons illegally in Israel and family unification policy vis-a-vis residents of the Palestinian Authority and foreign nationals of Palestinian origin.

The background for the aforesaid Cabinet decision and the subsequent legislation was the security reality following the outbreak of armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, which witnessed the increasing involvement of Palestinians, who utilized the status that they received in Israel in the wake of family unification procedures, in terrorist activity, including assistance to suicide terrorists. Their Israeli identity documents enabled them to move freely between Israel and the PA areas; terrorist organizations viewed them as a preferred group in perpetrating acts of terrorism, especially inside Israel. The Law was initially valid for one year but has been amended so as to permit its extension and allow for humanitarian exceptions.

The updated view of security officials is that there has been no change for the better in the security reality behind the Law, especially regarding terrorist organizations’ intention to continue exploiting residents who hold Israeli identity documents in order top perpetrate and abet acts of terrorism.

This reality has been reinforced since Hamas’s rise to power in the Gaza Strip. The 19 September 2007 Security Cabinet decision held that, "Hamas is a terrorist organization that has taken control of the Gaza Strip and turned it into hostile territory. This organization engages in hostile activity against the State of Israel and its citizens and bears responsibility for this activity. In light of the foregoing, it has been decided to adopt the recommendations that have been presented by the security establishment, including the continuation of military and counter-terrorist operations against the terrorist organizations. Additional sanctions will be placed on the Hamas regime… Restrictions will also be placed on the movement of people to and from the Gaza Strip.”

6. Pursuant to its 13 April 2008 decision, the Cabinet discussed the establishment of the Population, Migration and Border Crossings Authority as a unit within the Interior Ministry.

7. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Finance Ministry Budget Director Ram Belinkov briefed ministers on the goals for the 2009 state budget.