Jerusalem, 24 March 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), March 24, 2002:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that during his talks with US Vice President Cheney, he told him that when the future of Israel is being discussed, the most important thing is to hear – first and foremost – its position and plans. To this end, Prime Minister Sharon told US VP Cheney that it would be proper to enable him to appear before the summit in Beirut and detail Israel’s position and its plans since without Israel, it would be impossible to promote any plan whatsoever.

2. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed ministers on current security events from the past week and mentioned the American effort to bring about a cease-fire. The Defense Minister detailed the terrorist attacks which took place last week and discussed both the volume of attacks and the number of wounded. He noted that our forces successfully foiled – inter alia – suicide-attacks in the center of the country.

Prime Minister Sharon added to Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer’s remarks and said that up until now, Arafat has given no order to halt the terror. He noted that while the goal was to bring about a relaxation and a cease-fire and reach the implementation of the Tenet document, the Palestinians were playing for time so that they could say they did not have enough time to take the necessary steps.

3. The Cabinet unanimously decided to appoint, in accordance with Basic Law: The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer’s recommendation, Major-General Moshe Ya’alon to the position of Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces as of July 9, 2002. Lieutenant-General Shaul Mofaz will conclude his tenure as IDF Chief of Staff upon Major-General Moshe Ya’alon’s commencement of duties.

Prime Minister Sharon, on behalf of the government, wished Major-General Moshe Ya’alon success in his new position.

4. The Cabinet decided to appropriate NIS23 million from the budgets of government ministries to continue funding plans for improvements to the Western Wall Plaza, and for the Youth and Soldier visitation plan for the Western Wall and its environs.

5. The Cabinet was briefed by Minister Dan Naveh on the report detailing the economic damages caused by the PA, and its direct and indirect influences on the Israeli economy.