Jerusalem, 16 June 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), June 16, 2002:

1. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on the current situation vis-a-vis Palestinian terror. The Defense Minister stated that there has been a tangible drop in the scope of terror activity as compared to the situation before Operation Defensive Shield, and a very high rate of success in foiling attacks by defensive and offensive actions on the part of Israel’s security forces.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer stated there is still a not insignificant number of attempted attacks, both in Israel and in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and those attacks are occasionally successful.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer gave details of the attacks that took place in the past week in which three Israelis were killed and 20 were wounded. Israel is continuing its intensive activities to prevent and foil attacks wherever necessary.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized that the security situation is dangerous due to the constant growth in motivation to attack Israel and the constantly increasing rehabilitation of the terror infrastructure. Israel is closely monitoring developments in the Palestinian Authority and is maintaining a high state of alert on the northern front.

Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer and Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron reported on the start of construction of the security fence. The Defense Minister stated that the fence is intended strictly for security needs and has no political significance. The Government will hold discussions on this topic in the coming days.

2. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reviewed his visit to the United States and Britain, and clarified that the aim of the visits was to influence the processes occurring in our region, and to present anew Israel’s positions in relation to these developments. The Prime Minister said that the visits were at the invitation of US President George W. Bush, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Prime Minister Sharon clarified that he raised the following points during his talks in the United States:

  • There will be no progress of any kind in the diplomatic process until there is a cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement.
  • In order to participate in any diplomatic activities, the Palestinians must – in addition to halting the terror – implement substantial reforms in all facets of life, including the electoral process.
  • There will be no change in the Palestinian Authority, and its path, without a substantial change in its method of financial oversight and security mechanisms.
  • Definition of timetables for any process is a mistake. It should be in relation to proven results in the field.
  • All future negotiations will be bilateral between Israel and the Palestinians. Israel will not agree to discuss its future in any international frameworks of any kind. Israel will not return to the 1967 borders.
  • Discussion of settlements is part of the permanent agreement discussions. Regarding the "Palestinian state" issue – the conditions are not ripe for discussing the subject.
  • After implementation of substantial reforms in the Palestinian Authority, the cessation of terror and the holding of general elections – Israel will be prepared to partake in discussions on the subject.
  • Prime Minister Sharon also referred to the purpose of the regional conference in his talks in the US. The results of the conference should be the creation of teams to supervise the processes of change in the Palestinian Authority, and working teams for discussions on regional issues.
  • Prime Minister Sharon expressed his opinion that no terror states or states supporting terror should be invited to the regional conference, and expressed the expectations that states that participate in the conference will recognize Israel and establish relations with it.
  • Prime Minister Sharon expressed to his hosts his concerns over the military developments in the area of southern Lebanon with an emphasis on the danger to regional and global stability from the developing relationship between Iran, Syria and Hizbullah. The Prime Minister also raised the issues of the missing Israeli captives and Jonathan Pollard.

    3. The Cabinet approved the principles of the income tax reforms outlined in the recommendations of the Public Commission on Tax Reform headed by Yair Rabinovich.

    The Cabinet created a ministerial committee headed by Finance Minister Silvan Shalom in order to discuss and approve a bill for implementation of the commission’s recommendations for tax reform. Ministers’ reservations regarding the commission’s recommendations will be discussed and decided by the ministerial committee.

    4. The Cabinet adopted the recommendation of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation regarding the 2002 Military Service Law (Reserve Duty – emergency regulations), while restricting its validity until the end of 2002. Due to the security situation, the need has arisen to adjust the law’s articles on reserve duty in the format of an emergency regulation. To this end, the aforementioned draft law proposes to temporarily – until the end of 2002 – increase the maximum number of annual days that reservists may be called up from 30 days to 37 days.

    5. The Cabinet approved an emergency plan – which has been prepared by the Veterinary Services in coordination with the Health Ministry – to prevent human exposure to "mad cow disease." The emergency plan includes the following points:

    1. Mandatory testing of brain tissue from slaughtered cattle over 30 months of age, before its meat may be marketed for human consumption.
    2. The removal and destruction of internal organs defined as being at high risk for exposure to the disease (heads except the tongue, intestines and spinal cord) from meat from cattle over 12 months of age.
    3. Preventing the transportation and sale of cattle over 30 months of age for slaughter in the Palestinian Authority.

    In the framework of its decision, the Cabinet approved a budget for implementing the plan.