Jerusalem, 21 August 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

1. The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs today (Wednesday), August 21, 2002, discussed the issue of smallpox immunizations and decided to immunize "first response teams" as designated by the health system. Response teams from the security and health establishments, the Interior Ministry, the Public Security Ministry and the Environment Ministry – approximately 15,000 people – will be immunized. It was reported to the Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs that in light of current situational assessments, there is no immediate danger of a smallpox attack on the State of Israel. Therefore, immunizing the entire population of the State is not called for at present. Additional situational assessments will be carried out as necessary.

2. Following various media reports on "Gaza and Bethlehem first," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said that as far as the security of the State of Israel and its citizens is concerned, Israel relies, and will rely, on itself and will implement this policy through its security establishment.

In keeping with government policy, Prime Minister Sharon said that in places in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip where there is security quiet, Israel would be prepared to ease security restrictions on the Palestinians and allow them to deal with the civilian population; this depends on maintaining quiet and the start of counter-terrorist efforts.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the IDF redeployment in the Bethlehem region is in accordance with his views and in keeping with his policy of upholding Israel’s interests.