(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), July 14, 2002:
1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened the Cabinet meeting by expressing on his behalf, and on the behalf of the Cabinet, his deep sorrow on the passing of former IAF Commander Benny Peled. Prime Minister Sharon described him as a special person, an outstanding pilot in the IAF, and an IAF Commander who was entrusted with the most difficult missions during one of the most difficult times the State and the Air Force has ever known. He will be remembered as one out of the best of the IDF commanders, one of the best of the IAF Commanders and one of the best of the pilots. On his behalf, and on the behalf of the Cabinet, Prime Minister Sharon extends his condolences to the family of Maj.-Gen. Benny Peled.
2. The Cabinet decided to refer the issue of Jewish settlement and community settlement to the public committee headed by Yaakov Ne’eman. The Cabinet accepted Prime Minister Sharon’s proposal as follows:
- To define that Jewish settlement in the land of Israel is an expression of the fulfillment of Zionism, and is essential for the protection of the State, its security and its borders;
- To charge the Public Committee for Constitutional Affairs and Basic Laws, headed by Dr. Yaacov Ne’eman, with examining the issue of Jewish settlement, and community settlement in general, and to make recommendations to the Cabinet based on the legal situation;
- To oppose the proposed law by MK Haim Druckman, or any other private bill on the issue that will be brought for a vote in the Knesset, before the aforementioned recommendations have been proposed to and examined by the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Sharon noted that the Cabinet decided last week to authorize Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar to examine changes in MK Druckman’s proposed law. The examination revealed that there is a doubt over whether there is actually a need for this legislation.
Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that the Government is committed to the values of Jewish settlement. This settlement determined the borders of the country, and currently, and for the foreseeable future, will constitute an essential layer of the national security.
The Ne’eman Committee is made up of representatives of the various ideological streams that have joined together to make up the Government, professional people and jurists acceptable to all sides. They are dealing with questions touching upon the identity of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. It would be correct for them to evaluate the current legal situation, non-legislative processes that can be undertaken, and if there is a need for legislation at all – what legislation.
3. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on the current security issues noting that IDF activity and presence in Palestinian cities is continuing as necessary in light of the many warnings of attacks in Israel. The Defense Minister further said that the security forces have achieved impressive accomplishments in foiling intended attacks, but that despite the IDF activities in the cities, there still exists the possibility of terrorist attacks of all types, including serious ones, taking place because the motivation to carry out terror attacks has not decreased. Furthermore, Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer said that the security establishment is following a policy of differential curfews in cities where the tendency is to ease up on the civilian population, but under no circumstances at the expense of security.
Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer noted the phenomenon of mortar shelling in the Gaza Strip.
In the economic humanitarian area, in an effort to relieve the economic distress of the civilian population, the entry of 7,000 Palestinian workers into Israel has been permitted. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer believes that it is necessary to consider increasing this number in order to improve the economic situation of the population.
Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer related to the activities along the seam line and the "Jerusalem envelope" and clarified that he is accelerating the work as much as possible.
Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer also related to the Southern Command where the war against the smuggling of weapons along the Egyptian border through tunnels to the PA continues.
Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer also related to the intentions of Hizbullah in the north to carry out a significant large attack while IDF forces maintain their vigilance to prevent developments that will expand the cycle of violence on the northern border.