Jerusalem, 21 December 1997

CABINET COMMUNIQUE

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 21.12.97:

1. The Cabinet discussed the plight of the unemployed.

The Prime Minister said that he has instructed the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office to prepare an action plan which would add hundreds of jobs in development towns next month. At issue is the expansion of existing factories and the transfer of production from factories located in the center of the country to development areas.

The Minister of Labor and Social Welfare presented the principles of his plan to fight unemployment in the development towns. The Prime Minister announced that he will personally intervene in the effort to find solutions and that he intends to visit Ofakim tomorrow.

2. The Prime Minister called on the ministers to limit arguments among themselves to debates within the Cabinet, and to stop arguing and criticizing the government in the media. The Prime Minister said that the government has had many achievements in economics, as well as in the political and security areas. The ministers’ attacks on the government create a mistaken impression among the public, and cause it to forget about the government’s achievements, and this must cease.

3. The Minister of Tourism and his staff presented to the Cabinet a detailed report on "Israel 2000". The report presents the year 2000 as a unique opportunity and as an event with universal symbolism and meaning, not just in the Christian world. The plan’s goals are to use the year 2000 as a political, image and marketing lever and to accelerate tourism in the country. The Cabinet established a managing committee under the responsibility of the Minister of Tourism to promote the issue.

4. The Cabinet decided to transfer authorization of the Israel Broadcasting Authority budget to the ministerial committee on economics, which will decide on the Cabinet’s behalf, vis-a-vis a budget cut of no more than 3.5% for Channel 33, similar to the overall budget cut for the IBA.

5. The Cabinet decided in accordance with the Agriculture Minister’s proposal to welcome the renovation of the facade of Mikveh Yisrael Agricultural School in order to convert it into an historical and educational site, as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

6. The Prime Minister spoke about his meeting with the US Secretary of State. He said that the discussion was conducted according to the original planning which he had reported to the cabinet. According to the Prime Minister, the discussion contributed to strengthening the US administration’s understanding of the government’s fundamental belief that the peace process should be conducted on the basis of the fulfillment of Palestinian commitments and, as a corollary to this, the fulfillment of Israel’s part.

According to the Prime Minister, the discussion also contributed to strengthening the understanding of Israel’s security needs, in the framework of the final status agreement with the Palestinians. Agreement was also reached about the arrival of Ambassador Dennis Ross in early January, as well as a meeting whose exact date still needs to be determined with President Clinton.

The Prime Minister stressed that the government’s policy against uprooting settlements is clear.

7. The Cabinet discussion on the principles of Israel’s interests in the final status agreement will continue after the field tour that the cabinet ministers will make this coming Tuesday.