Jerusalem, 6 July 1997


(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat).

At the weekly Cabinet meeting Friday, 4.7.97

A. At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on the efforts being made to get the process with the Palestinians back on track. The Prime Minister said: "First and foremost, we are trying to resume the joint security activity, and at the same time, resume the activity of the negotiating committees, as well as begin negotiations on the permanent settlement. These efforts are in danger due to the conflagration in Hebron. The riots in Hebron developed, after the Palestinian Authority did nothing to prevent them, whereas the riots in Gush Katif were organized by the Palestinian Authority. The government is not prepared to accept a norm of street violence in parallel to the negotiating process. We have sent sharp messages to the Palestinians regarding this, both via the security agencies and through political channels. We must now wait, and see what the response will be."

B. The Prime Minister made it clear that there is no truth to the reports that various businessmen are undertaking contacts with Syria on his behalf. The attempt to resume the negotiations with Syria will be carried out via the U.S. administration.

C. The Cabinet decided to instruct the inter-ministerial committee to present, within a week, a proposal for the authority and composition of the permanent council which will operate on the issue of tombs which are discovered during archaeological excavations, and in various infrastructure projects. The committee will be chaired by the Deputy Attorney General.

D. The Cabinet ratified the agreement with the European Union regarding the right of prisoners to serve their sentences in their home countries. In the wake of the Law for Returning Prisoners to Their Home Countries

(1996), the agreement which was signed determines the rules according to which Israeli citizens serving prison sentences abroad may request to be transferred to Israel to serve the rest of their sentences here.

E. The Communications Minister briefed the Cabinet on the arrangement which enabled the beginning of competition in the area of international calls, and the operation of the service from the beginning of the week, which will lead to a reduction in tariffs for international calls.

The Prime Minister stressed that we have received additional proof that opening up various services to competition reduces prices and benefits the ordinary citizen, and that breaking up the monopolies and cartels benefits first and foremost the weaker strata of society.

F. The Public Security Minister briefed the Cabinet on the events in Mevasseret Zion, and the efforts to find a solution to the families which were removed from the absorption center there.

The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of finding a solution for these families, and not police methods.

The Prime Minister instructed the Deputy Housing Minister to submit a proposal for resolving the housing difficulties of these families, at the next Cabinet meeting.