Jerusalem, 6 August 2000

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 6.8.2000:

1) Prime Minister Ehud Barak noted that the deployment of UNIFIL – less than two months after the withdrawal of the IDF – is a further stage in the stabilization of southern Lebanon and hoped that it would bring about long-range stability in the area. The Prime Minister pointed out that the assumption is that, in the first stage, a number of Lebanese security units – not necessarily regular Lebanese Army forces – will deploy in the area in order to assert the Lebanese government’s sovereignty in the south. The Prime Minister believes that we are entering a better period for the northern communities both in regard to tourism and the possibility of investments in infrastructure.

2) Prime Minister Barak announced that in addition to their current ministerial responsibilities, several ministers would be responsible for portfolios which have recently become vacant, as follows:

Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer – Construction and Housing Ministry;
Minister Haim Ramon – Interior Ministry;
Minister Yossi Beilin – Religious Affairs Ministry.

Prime Minister Barak added that decisions will be made in the near future regarding additional portfolios which have recently been vacated.

Prime Minister Barak announced that several ministers will chair various ministerial committees, as follows:

Minister Yossi Beilin – Ministerial Committee on Copyrights and Trademarks; Minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak – Ministerial Committee on Road Safety; Minister Haim Ramon – Ministerial Committee on Interior Affairs and Services; Minister Matan Vilna’i – Ministerial Committee on Employment in the Arab Sector; Minister Michael Melchior – Ministerial Committee on Diaspora Affairs; Minister Yuli Tamir – Ministerial Committee on Immigration Absorption.

3) Prime Minister Barak referred to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s recent remarks and said that they do not befit a rabbi of his stature and that they are liable to harm the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and the feelings of their family members, as well as those of the entire nation. The Prime Minister added that the leaders of a movement which champions national unity and social rapprochement should express themselves in a manner which befits these goals. "Our sources tell us that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred and there is no better week than the one in which Tisha B’Av falls to work for national unity, as opposed to disunity," Prime Minister Barak said.