Jerusalem, 3 January 1997

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)

1. The Prime Minister said that the allegations published in Damascus regarding Israel’s responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Syria are absolute lies. We have no connection whatsoever to the terrorist attack in Syria, and Syria knows this.

Israel opposes any attack against innocent people. All our policies aim to ensure that IDF soldiers and security personnel protect civilians from terrorism.

We totally condemn terrorist operations in Syria, and everywhere. We have no interest in creating tensions with Syria. We seek peace and the resumption of negotiations with Syria.

2. The Cabinet decided to adopt the recommendations of the interministerial Wachs-Brodet-Leon Committee which examined telecommunications policies and the opening of the sector to competition no later than January 1999. Additional licenses will be granted for the operation of telecommunications services in the fields of infrastructure, transmission, and telephones.

The Finance Minister stressed that, at this stage, the recommendations are only general and indicative of the direction of overall policies. Details will subsequently be worked out through dialogue with the workers.

Licensed operators will be permitted to supply services throughout Israel, but will be obliged also to serve peripheral areas where demand is lower. The Cabinet also decided to instruct the working groups, in implementing the report, to meet with representatives of Bezek on issues relating to employees.

The Prime Minister said that this is a large-scale revolution which will decrease costs in many economic sectors. The process will create new jobs, rather than eliminate them. Privatization activities and policy reform will be carried out through dialogue with the workers.

3. The Cabinet appoint Avi Blustein as Director-General of the Religious Affairs Ministry.

4. The Cabinet approved the protocol with Jordan regarding trans-shipment of cargo.

5. The Cabinet approved an agreement with Mongolia regarding cooperation, and an agreement with Russia regarding the establishment and operation of cultural centers.