Jerusalem, 13 July 1997

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 13.7.95:

1. At the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister welcomed the new ministers Finance Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman and Science Minister Michael Eitan as well as Deputy Defense Minister Silvan Shalom. He announced the appointment of the Deputy Defense Minister as being responsible for the government’s liaison with the Knesset.

2. The Defense Minister, the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the Director of the GSS ad other officers, briefed the Cabinet on security matters.

3. Much criticism was leveled at the Palestinian Authority’s violations of the agreement, mainly regarding violence.

The Prime Minister said that the crisis with the Palestinians stems first and foremost from the fact that they realize they are now dealing with a different government. A government which is not prepared to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps, neither with regards to the issues of terrorism, Jerusalem nor a return to the 1967 borders. This is the basis for the debate and the crisis. Up until one year ago, the Palestinians enjoyed the best of all worlds. There was violence, but the previous government continued to hand over assets to them. The current government has halted this policy. We are prepared to reach a settlement, but not at any price. We want to leave the crisis and resume the political negotiations; the basis for this is that the Palestinians also fulfill their part [of the agreements], first and foremost regarding security. Our goal is to prevent escalation, but if there is escalation by the other side, this will carry a very heavy price.

The Prime Minister stressed that the Cabinet is also committed to the continued existence, and development, of the Hebron Jewish community.

Foreign Minister David Levy stated in the meeting that no political limitations are placed on the operations of IDF soldiers. If there is any chance of a return to negotiations it is dependent on our sticking to the conditions we set, most importantly the prevention of terror and violence. In all the current political maneuvering taking place today, we are standing firm on this basic rule. It is today clear to the Palestinians that they will not achieve all that they had planned for under the previous government. If the negotiations get back on track, this will take place on the basis of the principles which the current government has set for itself.

Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai said in the discussion that were anyone to check the level of security in Israel in the last year as against that of the previous years, it would be found that the current level of security is higher in all areas and from all points of view. The open-fire rules of the IDF have not significantly changed; in some areas IDF soldiers have been given greater freedom of action. In all contacts with the Palestinians at the present time, Israel is placing stress on the security issues which are vital to us.

4. The Prime Minister expressed shock at the deaths of twelve people on the beaches of Israel over the weekend. The Prime Minister requested that the Interior Minister take all required steps to stop this phenomenon, and to report back to the government on this.

5. The Transport Minister reported to the government on progress in the negotiations with Jordan on the subject of the joint airport in Aqaba-Eilat.