(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 28.09.97:
1. The Director of the GSS briefed the cabinet on security matters.
2. The Prime Minister referred to the Palestinian issue:
The Prime Minister said that the Palestinian Authority has begun to take the correct preliminary steps in the fight against terrorism. These steps must be continuous, serious and systematic. Therefore, the Prime Minister announced his decision to release half of the remaining funds to the Palestinian Authority.
The Prime Minister added that in wake of the talks held by the Israeli delegation headed by Cabinet Secretary Dani Naveh in Washington last week, and in light of the preliminary first steps taken by the Palestinian Authority in the security field, there is an indication that at Foreign Minister David Levy’s meeting with Palestinian representative Abu-Mazen under the auspices of US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, together indicate that there will be an agreement to resume the negotiations of the Interim Agreement committees. Other matters, including the need to hold accelerated negotiations on the permanent settlement, will be debated later.
3. The Prime Minister referred to reports on the war games ostensibly held by the IDF in the event of a possible deterioration vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
The Prime Minister emphasized that these matters have nothing to do with government policy or its operative plans. The reports were irresponsible. We are working to move the peace process forward, but at the same time, we have no intention of compromising with violence and terrorism.
4. The Cabinet approved the extension of IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin- Shahak’s term of office until 9 July 1998.
5. In accordance with section 18 of Basic Law: President, the Cabinet decided that between 4-10.97, President Ezer Weizman will with the government’s consent visit the United States, at the invitation of US President Bill Clinton, and hold additional meetings with American officials and US Jewish community representatives.
6. The cabinet discussed the general strike, supported the Finance Minister’s position, and called for the Histadrut to resume negotiations.
The Prime Minister said that the reason for the strike is understood by no one. The only issue at stake is the Knesset primaries for [Histadrut Chairman MK] Amir Peretz. The Histadrut is attempting to enforce, with a gun to the temple, the agreement which was signed by the previous government’s finance minister 20 days before the [last] Knesset elections.
The Finance Minister said that at issue is a strike which holds the country by the throat, merely for political purposes. The government is prepared to discuss the pension assurances to the weaker sectors of society in funds which the Histadrut has brought to bankruptcy, but the Histadrut is concerned with pension arrangements for the rich and for senior Histadrut officials, rather than the weaker sectors of society.
This strike was called for the strange and personal political reasons of the Histadrut Chairman. The government will not surrender to blackmail.