Jerusalem, 26 July 1999

Cabinet Communique

(Communicated by Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), 26.7.99:

1. The Cabinet discussed the issue of violence in Israeli society which has been given top priority in light of recent events (i.e. the murder of Mrs. Cohen and her children.)

Noting the consensus within the Cabinet, the Prime Minister stated that the need to address social issues is of equal urgency and priority to that of the political sphere. He added that there is actually a link between the agendas governing these two areas for instance, a deterioration in the political situation and a loss of hope have clear implications for domestic social processes.

Specifically, the Cabinet ministers addressed the various forms and aspects of the phenomenon of increasing violence, naturally emphasizing instances of violence directed against women, children and the vulnerable.

As a primary measure in this sphere, the Prime Minister, on behalf of the Cabinet, instructed the inter-ministerial Directors-General Committee, headed by Labor and Social Affairs Ministry Director-General Yigal Ben-Shalom, to urgently convene for the sake of addressing the problems related to family violence; the Committee was appointed by the previous government in February 1999, and its recommendations were given Cabinet approval in April.

The Committee was asked to establish immediate contact with various agencies in order to clarify the status of the implementation of its recommendations. The Prime Minister instructed Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Yossi Kucik to coordinate between the various offices and agencies, to assess the current situation with regard to these recommendations, and to report back to the Cabinet at its next meeting on Sunday.

The Finance Minister stated that, within the framework of this clarification process, he and other Finance Ministry officials will urgently examine the fiscal issues relating to the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.

It should be noted that the Ben-Shalom Committee report offered a long series of recommendations in the areas of enforcement, mental health, protection, shelters for battered women and education.

The Cabinet expressed its shock over the Cohen family murders, and recorded the Prime Minister’s statement of intent to urgently appoint a special ministerial committee, to be headed by the Public Security Minister, that will address the struggle against violence and relevant law enforcement efforts; the committee will be charged with discussing and redressing all aspects of the problem of violence within society including the issues of enforcement, punishment, education and welfare services and will also discuss certain secondary issues, many of which will be addressed by the Labor and Social Affairs Minister.

Most of the Cabinet ministers who participated in the discussion agreed that the phenomenon of violence must be addressed in its entirety, and that the events recently witnessed are symptoms of this phenomenon.

2. The Prime Minister briefed the Cabinet on political developments, following his visits to the United States, Great Britain and Morocco, and his attendance at the funeral of King Hassan II. During the subsequent discussion, Cabinet ministers commented on the Prime Minister’s remarks, and offered congratulations on the success of his visit to the United States.

The Prime Minister addressed, at length, his talks with President Clinton and senior Administration figures in Washington, as well as his meetings with regional leaders. He defined the current stage as one in which Israel is "mapping the positions of the parties" to various tracks.

The Prime Minister informed the Cabinet of his upcoming meetings with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat on Tuesday, and with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday; the Foreign Minister will also attend the meetings.

The Prime Minister detailed his opening positions: The Middle East constitutes a difficult environment, and the political process is very complex. The genuine guarantee of Israel’s integrity lies not only in political agreements themselves, but also in the security and strength of Israel, and its quality as a united society.

The Prime Minister pointed to the clear gaps between the positions of the parties, encompassing even moderate elements on all sides. The Prime Minister also reiterated the commitment of the Government of Israel to the Wye River Memorandum, but noted that, within the framework of its implementation and of the advancement of the process, he will seek ways to reduce security dangers and friction and to build confidence between regional parties, who have suffered from heightened suspicion due to prevailing circumstances.

The Prime Minister also reported on his meetings with world leaders at the funeral of King Hassan II of Morocco including the leaders of Austria, Poland, Japan and the Gulf emirates, the Foreign Secretary of Great Britain, the King of Jordan, and the President of Algeria; the Prime Minister emphasized the fact that his meeting with the Algerian president was conducted in the open.

The Prime Minister also met with US President Clinton a number of times, being joined on some occasions by Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat and Egyptian President Mubarak.

The Prime Minister expressed his hope for progress in the coming weeks in the political contacts along the Palestinian track, at the level of professional delegations.

With regard to Syria, the Prime Minister noted that Israel has received signals, via various political sources, most recently via the Prime Minister of Spain, indicating that Syria wishes to resume the process.

The Cabinet recorded both the joint communique of the Prime Minister and the US President following the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States, and the condolence note issued by the Prime Minister on the passing of King Hassan II of Morocco.

3. The Prime Minister stated that the Cabinet will soon discuss the preparations that Israel has made in advance of the year 2000, adding that he has instructed the Prime Minister’s Office Director-General to convene the Directors-General team for the sake of preparing staff work, involving the directors-general of relevant ministries, in advance of the Cabinet meeting on this matter. The team will also address the issue of the Y2K bug.

4. The Cabinet recorded the statement of the Prime Minister on the need to safeguard the respect and importance of the Knesset, and on the obligation of Cabinet ministers to appear before the parliament. In this regard, the Prime Minister announced a ministerial rotation subject to which Cabinet ministers will be required to attend sessions of the Knesset plenum.

5. The Cabinet approved the appointments of the following directors-general: Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat at the Finance Ministry, Dr. Reuven Horesh at the Industry and Trade Ministry, Ya’akov Efrati at the Infrastructure Ministry, and Prof. Yehoshua Shemer at the Health Ministry. The Cabinet also approved various Foreign Service appointments authorized by by the Foreign Ministry Appointments Committee.

6. The Cabinet approved the transfer of responsibility for the law concerning intellectual property rights, in accordance with the charter to which Israel is a signatory, to the Ministerial Committee for Legislative Affairs. The Cabinet also approved the authorities of the Ministerial Committee on GSS Investigations, as required by the 1987 Landau Commission report.