(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting, today (Sunday), 22.11.98:
1. The Prime Minister clarified that the release of Palestinian prisoners was in accordance with the Wye River Memorandum. He stated that Israel committed to release 750 prisoners, but that Israel informed the Palestinians and President Clinton that no prisoners with blood on their hands or prisoners belonging to Hamas would be released.
The Palestinians are trying to present the matter in a twisted manner, as if Israel had committed to release only security prisoners — which is not the case. As stated, Israel informed both the Palestinians and the Americans of its insistence on the principle that prisoners in these two categories would not be released. Israel stands firm on these criteria, based upon which 250 prisoners were released in the first phase. The remaining prisoners to be released will also come from among those criminals who do not have blood on their hands.
If the Palestinians choose to initiate a crisis over this issue — that will be their problem. There is no basis for their accusations. In any event, Israel has announced this principle and will stand firm thereon, in accordance with its commitments.
2. The Defense Minister, the IDF Chief-of-Staff and the OC Central Command briefed the Cabinet on current security issues and on the implementation of the first stage of the second redeployment, in accordance with the Cabinet’s decision.
3. The Cabinet authorized the Prime Minister to examine and decide on the Directors-General committee’s recommendations regarding the removal of the Bedouins from Arb al-Naim.
4. The Justice Minister reported to the Cabinet on the completion of the work of the committee, headed by Justice Miriam Porat, which reached an arrangement concerning the claims of new immigrants who lost their money before arriving in Israel. The Public Affairs Committee addressed 985 claims and approved all of them. The Prime Minister congratulated all the groups involved in this matter.