(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 7.6.98:
1. The Cabinet was briefed on security issues by the Defense Minister and the head of the GSS.
2. The Cabinet began discussion on the recommendations of the directors-general committee on formalizing the voluntary national service framework. The Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Minister of Education and Minister of Defense all presented their position. The Cabinet established a ministerial committee, to be headed by the Prime Minister, to discuss this matter further.
3. The Prime Minister updated the Cabinet on recent contacts on the Palestinian issue.
He stated that he cannot say that Israel and the Palestinians are on the verge of an agreement. There is as yet no agreement on the second redeployment. Israel is directing its efforts toward reaching agreement with the United States on the third redeployment. The issue here is the scope of the redeployment, as well as the way in which it will be determined. Israel is making great efforts, and on this matter there is a chance that progress will be made.
Regarding reciprocity, Israel has presented a concrete list of commitments, among them the convening of the Palestinian National Council for the purpose of annulling all articles of the Palestinian Charter. There is as yet no agreement with the Palestinians on this issue.
The Prime Minister added that the territory of Judea and Samaria, and the principle of settlement, are dearer to no one more than he. Settlement is important to all Israelis, he said, and therefore Israel is working to ensure its security and national interests.
The government inherited the agreement, and the objectives which it has set itself are the carrying out of the agreement while insisting on reciprocity and preserving Israel’s national and security assets. After the Palestinians understood from the previous government that they would receive an Israeli withdrawal from most of the area of Judea and Samaria, the current government has worked carefully and responsibly to lower Palestinian expectations. For the current government, the areas under discussion are part of the homeland; the struggle is being conducted on this basis.
The Prime Minister stated that he intended to convene the inner security cabinet to update it. In the current, sensitive, stage of the negotiations, he said, it will not be possible to discuss all details before the full Cabinet. He stressed that discussions with the U.S. are being carried out on the basis of the criteria set by the Cabinet.