Jerusalem, 15 July 2001

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon discussed his recent visit to Italy. He said that new Italian Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi is a friend of Israel and will lead a new line vis-a-vis Italy and its policies. The Prime Minister also met with Italian Jewish community leaders. He said that in light of his visit to Italy, as well as his recent trips to the US and France, he realizes that unity in Israel has led to unity among Diaspora Jews.

In the political-security sphere, Prime Minister Sharon said that the seven-day period would not start until there is complete quiet. He added that Israel would not give in on this issue even if pressured to do so.

2. The Cabinet decided to establish new communities in the Halutza Sands area; this is based on its policies regarding population distribution and the strengthening of the Negev. The Cabinet assigned Interior Minister Eli Yishai – in consultation with the other relevant ministers – the responsibility of advancing the planning procedures for the aforementioned communities. Prime Minister Sharon said that there is great importance in making the Nitzana area into an area of peace and in creating contiguous communities. The establishment of communities assures our possession of the area for generations.

3. The Cabinet decided to establish a ministerial committee on copyright issues – headed by Justice Minister Meir Shetrit – to enforce copyright laws, further the struggle against copyright piracy and coordinate among the relevant law-enforcement authorities.

4. The Cabinet decided to immediately table a draft voluntary national service law (an experimental program for young men) in the Knesset which is designed to enable young men who volunteer for national service to receive the same rights given to young women. This is to make possible an experimental national voluntary service project for young men (encompassing approximately 250 young men).

5. The Cabinet approved draft amendments to 1969 legislation on water and sewage treatment.

6. The Cabinet – in accordance with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposal – decided to budget an additional NIS 10 million for public libraries.

7. The Cabinet discussed draft legislation by MK Amir Peretz on tax exemptions for Kupat Cholim Clalit’s recovery program.

8. The Cabinet began a series of discussions on the draft 2002 state budget. The discussion dealt with national priorities.