Jerusalem, 15 August 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 15.8.99:

1. The Prime Minister congratulated Minister Shimon Peres on the occasion of his 76th birthday, praised his actions and achievements and wished him success in his future endeavors.

2. The IDF Chief-of-Staff gave a political-security briefing; secrecy was imposed, in accordance with the law. At the conclusion of the debate, the Prime Minister reiterated Israel’s commitment to implementing the Wye Agreement and reported on his directive to the IDF to restart the countdown on 1 September and the transfer of territory on 1 October in tandem with the completion of the Palestinians’ commitments.

The Prime Minister pointed out that in the contacts with the Palestinians, the possibility of an agreed-upon postponement of part of the third stage of the second phase is being examined, in tandem with the moving up of other components of the agreement.

3. Minister Matan Vilna’i briefed the Cabinet on his committee’s report on youth violence, as well as the main recommendations for a program to reduce youth violence in the educational system. He reviewed the findings and data regarding violence in the schools. Most ministers commented on various aspects of the phenomenon of youth violence.

Prior to the discussion, the Prime Minister made the following remarks:

"This week, 24 people lost their lives in traffic accidents." The Prime Minister read the names and ages of the seven youngest victims, including those of two one year-old children. "Every loss of life is a loss of life; this is shocking and heart-rending, unfathomable. Sometimes it is momentary negligence, irresponsibility and carelessness on the highways. I call on ourselves and a great part of the challenge is to face up to our responsibilities, with our families and personally, on the roads and in government offices. As the government, we will aid any endeavor which can prevent the slaughter on the roads."

At the suggestion of the Transportation Minister, it was agreed that the next Cabinet meeting will discuss the issue of road accidents.

As has been stated, the ministers related to various aspects of the phenomenon, and this is, in fact, the fourth cabinet meeting in which the main subject was the issue of violence in society, this time from a specific angle.

Regarding the Vilna’i report, the Cabinet adopted the outline of the report’s recommendations, and passed it on to be examined by the Education and Finance Ministries for further consideration.

On this matter, and on the general problem of violence, the Prime Minister summarized:

"The last weeks have seen grave examples of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence on the roads and in the schools. The government must pay attention to this problem, both on the level of policy implementation and in the framework of the general picture.

The Vilna’i report reveals a very serious problem. All those who live with young people know how serious this problem is, especially in a nation such as ours, which throughout its history has known how to educate toward correct and moral behavior, wherever it has sojourned in the world.

The growing violence in our society derives from the loosening of frameworks and authority. The family, the school and the street are a single totality and in a situation in which the authority of the family has weakened, while in the streets and in the media much crude violence is seen the schools find it hard to cope with the weakening of norms. The problem must be dealt with in a multi-faceted, multi-sectoral way. It can not begin and end only in the schools. It must be attended to at all levels in the home, in the neighborhood, in the community and in the local authorities. First and foremost all citizens must deal with the phenomenon by showing personal responsibility."

The Prime Minister concluded that in such circumstances, it is permitted to deal a little less in pedagogy and more in education. Even if the pupils know a little less mathematics, but instead hold serious discussions in class on how the class itself should behave in its day to day life then this is surely preferable. Thus also with initiatives taken by principals, teachers and parents.

4. The Cabinet approved the composition of 23 ministerial committees and their responsibilities. These may be subject to minor changes at the request of ministers and upon submission to the Cabinet Secretary.

5. The Cabinet approved the appointment of Nahman Shai as Science Ministry Director-General.

6. The Cabinet approved an agro-technical cooperation agreement with Mauritius.

7. The cabinet approved Israel’s adherence to the UNESCO Treaty.

8. The cabinet registered the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding the resumption of operations of the Directors-General Committee on National Preferential Development Areas in order to prepare recommendations for their reclassification and the formulation of a "basket of benefits" according to the Capital Investment Encouragement Law. Committee agendas will be submitted to all the ministries in advance, so that additional directors-general may attend meetings. The recommendations are to be submitted by 15.12.99.