Jerusalem, 23 November 1997


(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 23.11.97:

1. The Prime Minister briefed the ministers on his meetings in the US and London, including his meeting with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The Prime Minister said that Israel’s position is that there is a clear connection between the Palestinians’ meeting their security commitments and progress in other areas, especially the additional redeployment. According to the Prime Minister, Israel wants to move the process forward but in order to do so, the Palestinians must meet their commitments, especially those in the security field.

The Prime Minister emphasized that he never made any commitment regarding the freezing of settlements. He said that in his meeting with US Secretary of State Albright, and in Foreign Minister David Levy’s later meetings in Washington, it was made clear that a settlement freeze is contrary to the agreement. According to the Prime Minister, Israel wants to move forward in the negotiations with the Palestinians on the basis of the mutual honoring of commitments, and certainly not on the basis of Israel’s unilaterally honoring its commitments, without similar progress on the Palestinian side.

2. Industry and Trade Minister Natan Sharansky briefed the ministers on the Doha conference. He told the Cabinet that the Israeli delegation was not boycotted during the conference. An agreement with Jordan on a free trade area in Irbid was signed in Doha. Negotiations were begun with six Jordanian ministers in all areas. Meetings with Qatari ministers were held in a positive atmosphere. Israeli business persons also held many successful meetings.

3. Finance Minister Ya’acov Ne’eman briefed the Cabinet on the talks he held in the US with representatives of the various streams in the Jewish community, as part of the effort to reach agreement on the conversion law.

4. The Defense Minister briefed the Cabinet on security matters.

5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of the events to mark the 50th anniversary of the State of Israel. At the beginning of the discussion, the Prime Minister emphasized that the issue of a pardon was not on the Cabinet’s agenda.

Regarding the events to mark the anniversary, the Prime Minister said that "in the past 50 years, the story of the most amazing revival of the 20th century took place here. What has happened in the Land of Israel is the greatest victory of the Jewish people. The Jewish people, which was almost eliminated during the Holocaust, is, today, an important factor in the world; this is a victory for the Jewish people."

Tourism Minister Moshe Katzav said that the anniversary events must meet several goals, especially the enhancement of the Jewish people’s ties to the State of Israel.

Yitzhak Moda’i, who is in charge of events for the anniversary, presented the Cabinet with the program of events which are planned to mark the anniversary. Ministers may add their own proposals, so that the program will be approved at an upcoming Cabinet meeting.

6. The Public Security Minister briefed the Cabinet on the situation in Jerusalem. The Prime Minister informed the ministers of the decision to establish a new police post in the Old City.

The Deputy Construction and Housing Minister informed the cabinet about his ministry’s decision to reinforce security in the Old City, and that the ministry was to this end allocating more resources in order to finance security in Jerusalem.

7. The Cabinet approved the Education, Culture and Sports Minister’s proposal that the appointment of the director for Educational Television be added to the list of permanent positions, under Article #23 of the 1958 State Service (Appointments) Law. The Education, Culture and Sports Minister will propose the appointment of a candidate to the position after a committee appointed by the Minister composed of media and education professionals, and led by an accepted prominent person, has examined several candidates; the Minister will propose a candidate to the Cabinet from among those found qualified by the committee. The draft decision was made in coordination with, and with the approval of, the Attorney-General and the Civil Service Commissioner.