Jerusalem, 22 March 1998


(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, today (Sunday), 22.3.98:

1. The Cabinet was briefed by the Attorney General and the head of the Police Investigations Division on law enforcement in Judea and Samaria. Following questions by Ministers Shaul Yahalom, Yitzhak Levy, Michael Eitan and Limor Livnat, the Attorney General emphasized that treatment of the residents in Judea and Samaria is not substantively different from that afforded to any other group in the State of Israel, although there are small concentrations of friction.

The head of the Police Investigations Division said that law enforcement in Judea and Samaria is not handled any differently from any other location in Israel. The police operate in accordance with the law and the courts. He noted that the law is better enforced in Judea and Samaria than in the past.

The Defense Minister emphasized that the vast majority of residents in Judea and Samaria are among the best of the Israeli people and are law-abiding. There is a handful of people, in certain locations, who break the law, and no support can be offered for any affront to the legal apparatus of the State of Israel.

The Public Security Minister said that the IDF and the police are carrying out their duties and must be supported.

The Prime Minister said, during the discussion, that Israel must adhere to the principle whereby everyone is equal before the law this holds true for both citizens of the country and those who are entrusted with security. The Prime Minister also noted that he has opposed the stigmas attached to entire sectors of the populations, such as the stigma attached to the population of new immigrants from the CIS.

2. The Cabinet decided to accept the Prime Minister’s proposal for a two-day Independence Day holiday this year on the occasion of the State of Israel’s Jubilee anniversary, which is a unique milestone in the history of the nation. As such, Independence Day will be observed on Thursday and on the next day, Friday. The Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs will formulate, on behalf of the Cabinet, a bill to this effect.

3. The Cabinet decided to approve the recommendation of the Ministerial Committee on the Collection of Debts to Israelis from Residents of the Territories, and to approve the procedure whereby debtors will not be allowed entry into Israel from the area of the Palestinian Authority.

4. The Cabinet held a political discussion.

The Prime Minister said that the Security Cabinet discussion on Lebanon has not yet ended, and that the Security Cabinet decision will also be brought to the full Cabinet once this discussion has been concluded.

The Prime Minister added that there is no truth to reports stating that Israel has consented, as it were, to resume negotiations with Syria from the point where they were halted. Israel has told Syria that it may raise any proposal for negotiation, but it has not given its consent to resume the negotiations from the point where they were halted.

5. Regarding the negotiations with the Palestinians, the Prime Minister reported to the ministers on his talks with U.S. President Bill Clinton. The Prime Minister added that Israel expects the United States to adhere to its policy and commitments, according to which Israel will be the party to determine the extent of the redeployment in Judea and Samaria. This means that Israel will be the one to determine its security needs. This was detailed in a letter from U.S. Secretary of State Christopher, as well as in other explicit American commitments. The considerations guiding the State of Israel are those of both national and personal security, and the government is resolute in its adherence to these considerations. Consequently, only Israel can determine the redeployment and its security needs.

Israel also calls for genuine reciprocity from the Palestinian side. Israel has signed and upheld an agreement; the other side has yet to uphold its end.

The Prime Minister, the heads of the Knesset party factions and the ministers said at the meeting that only Israel can determine its security needs, and that reports of a 13% withdrawal are unacceptable.