Jerusalem, 13 October 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), October 13, 2002:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eulogized the late Mayor of Lod and former MK, Maxim Levy, and informed the Cabinet that he had given his condolences, as well as those of the entire Cabinet, to his widow.

2. Finance Minister Silvan Shalom and Finance Ministry Wage Director Yuval Rachelevsky briefed the Cabinet on the economic situation in light of the strikes and work sanctions decided upon by the Histadrut and the various employees’ committees.

3. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on current security matters and referred to both the latest attempted terrorist attacks as well as the security forces’ counter-terrorist actions. The Defense Minister emphasized that the attempted attacks underscore the daily dilemma that Israel faces as it navigates between its security needs and the needs of the Palestinian population that is not involved in terror and is being hurt by the situation on the ground. The Defense Minister said that while Israel has no desire to hold large Palestinian populations in continual curfews, when it has lifted the curfews, terrorists have exploited this in order to perpetrate attacks against Israeli citizens.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the Lebanese tested their Wazzani pumping project last week and are continuing to work on completing the project; Israel is giving the American mediation efforts a chance.

Prime Minister Sharon noted that unilateral action by Lebanon would be unacceptable to Israel. However, Israel will attempt to work within the diplomatic process initiated by the US – where her position will be represented to the US officials dealing with the subject and during Prime Minister Sharon’s meetings in the US.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad briefed the Cabinet on the social-economic situation in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and discussed the measures which Israel has approved and which are designed to bring relief to the Palestinian population. Maj.-Gen. Gilad described the humanitarian steps taken by the IDF to ease the situation for the civilian Palestinian population and emphasized that the lack of desire on the Palestinian side to act against terror is making it difficult for Israel to deal with Palestinian civilians not involved in terror.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that it is in Israel’s interest to make life easier for Palestinians not involved in terror.

4. The Cabinet decided to extend the freeze on the salaries of ministers and deputy ministers to those who were appointed after June 2001.