Jerusalem, 12 May 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), May 12, 2002:

1. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevy Farkash briefed the Cabinet on the Palestinian arena in the wake of Operation Defensive Shield.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer referred to last week’s severe terrorist attack in Rishon Letzion.

With regard to the action that had been planned, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the State of Israel had entered into a detailed public media discussion on the IDF’s operational planning and added that this was unnecessary, damaging and liable to put lives at risk. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the security establishment was constantly assessing the situation and are keeping all operational options open.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer discussed the conclusion of events at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Furthermore, he emphasized the fact that, on a nightly basis, the IDF holds a series of initiated actions, which are obtaining very important achievements in foiling attacks and detaining fugitives.

2. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon briefed the Cabinet on his visit to the United States and his meeting with US President George W. Bush. The Prime Minister reviewed the issues he raised with President Bush, Vice-President Richard Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice.

Prime Minister Sharon noted that his visit took place in a friendly and cordial atmosphere and added that it had been planned and carried out very well.

3. The Cabinet decided to approve Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s proposal regarding the presence of illegal aliens in Israel, and the family unification policy for residents of the Palestinian Authority.

a. The Israel Police, Interior Ministry, security sources and other relevant government ministries will act to enforce and prevent the presence and settlement in Israel of illegal residents from the Palestinian Authority.

b. The Interior Ministry and other relevant government ministries will formulate a new policy to deal with family reunification requests, and until such new policy is formulated, the following rules will apply:
No new requests by residents of the Palestinian Authority for legal status as a resident, or any other status, will be accepted; requests submitted will not be approved, and the foreign spouse will be required to remain outside Israel until such time as a different decision is reached.

During the interim period, the validity of authorizations that have already been issued will be extended, in the absence of any circumstances to prevent it.

The new policy will include the following principles:

  • Requests by those who have violated the entry laws into Israel will not be dealt with, and the offender will be deported from Israel.
  • Security and criminal criteria for preventing entry and granting of legal status in Israel will be more stringent.
  • For applicants whose request has been denied, a minimum length of time will be established before an application may be resubmitted.
  • Rules regarding the prevention of entry and granting of legal status in Israel to spouses from fictitious or polygamous marriages, as well as children from prior marriages and other relations, will be more stringent.
  • Revocation of legal status in Israel for anyone who was granted legal status through the family unification process and engaged in criminal and anti-state activity after receiving their legal status.
  • Whoever received legal status in Israel in the framework of a family unification request, or other manner, will not have the right to request family unification for any other relative.

In the framework of formulating the new policy, Interior Minister Yishai will examine the possibility of establishing yearly quotas for family unification authorizations, and the need for appropriate legislative amendments to implementation the above decisions. Furthermore, the creation of an immigration authority within the Interior Ministry will be hastened.

In summarizing the issue, Prime Minister Sharon noted that this is a national mission, and implementation of the decision must start immediately.

Prime Minister Sharon directed that actions based on this decision will also include dealing with those who fraudulently obtained legal status in Israel.