Jerusalem, 25 May 2000

Prime Minister Barak at Cabinet Meeting
(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Barak at yesterday’s cabinet meeting (Wednesday) 24.5.2000, opened the meeting by expressing his great appreciation for the stamina of the IDF soldiers and commanders in Lebanon, noting their determination, wisdom and orientation characterized their action under very difficult circumstances. IDF operations enabled the government to take the decision to bring the boys home.

The Prime Minister told the ministers of his visit to Zarit and his meeting with soldiers who had just left Lebanon. He stated that he believes that the situation would settle down, even if there are a few incidents, which will bring security and a normal daily routine to the residents of the north.

He stated that Israel places responsibility for quiet in southern Lebanon on the Lebanese and Syrians governments, and that any firing on IDF soldiers or civilians within Israel’s borders would be considered as an act of war which would be met with appropriate action.

The Prime Minister said that the international community is aware that the withdrawal was carried out on the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 425 with all that this implies for the legitimacy for any necessary Israeli act of self-defense.

The Prime Minister told the cabinet of his meeting with bereaved families who expressed their thanks for the withdrawal, and his deep regret that the withdrawal came too late for their sons. He stated that Israel would continue to use all necessary means to locate its POWs and MIAs whose fate is connected to the tragedy of Lebanon, and bring them home.

The cabinet appointed Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Haim Ramon as the minister responsible for handling matters related to the SLA.