Jerusalem, 27 October 2002

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), October 27, 2002:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks about the 2003 state budget:

"This week, we will submit the 2003 state budget for its first reading. The situation is not easy; this budget is necessary in order to stabilize the economy and move the State of Israel forward. In the world as a whole, but especially in the US, there is confidence in the Israeli economy. We all heard this from US President George Bush. However, alongside the confidence, there is the anticipation to see how we are doing, to see how we are putting the Israeli economy back on the path to growth. Passing the state budget as is on its first reading is a necessary condition for this.

"I have said this before and I am going back on what I have said – all coalition parties must support the state budget in the Knesset. This has to do with proper governance and administrative norms. I will not tolerate games or political party tricks. All of us most vote in favor. Whoever does not vote in favor of the budget cannot be part of the government. Everyone knows how much importance I attribute to the unity government. Israel urgently needs unity today, in light of present and future challenges – and you know that difficult challenges await us. However, unity without responsibility is an empty word. Unity is important but national responsibility is more important. We all share the responsibility of passing the budget and whoever does not act responsibly – I will put this simply – will not be here."

2. Prime Minister Sharon referred to his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the attack by Chechen terrorists in Moscow.

3. Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on current security matters. In discussing the attack at Karkur junction, which resulted in the deaths of 14 Israelis and injured more than 30, the Defense Minister emphasized that this attack was carried out by the Islamic Jihad operating from Jenin, and was a painful reminder of the many efforts being made to perpetrate attacks against Israelis. The Defense Minister noted that IDF forces had entered Jenin following the attack and were conducting searches for wanted terrorists. Parallel to this, the security establishment is continuing with its preventative activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. This week Israel took another step in the implementation of the differential policy in Judea and Samaria with the aim of increasing pressure on terrorists while easing conditions in quieter places. In this spirit the IDF redeployed its forces in Hebron. The Defense Minister also referred to the visit of US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns, who came to discuss the "roadmap" draft.

Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer discussed the phenomenon of law-breaking among settlers in Judea and Samaria. The Defense Minister said that he had instructed the IDF to take all precautions to prevent events of the kind witnessed last week.

Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer also mentioned the arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Omar el-Kheib and the other Bedouins arrested with him on suspicion of their part in the espionage and drugs episode. Defense Minister Ben-Eliezer called on everyone to be wary of making general accusations against the Bedouin population as a whole. This is an ethnic group that has contributed in the past, and continues to contribute, to the security of the State of Israel, and its fate is connected to ours.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also referred to events at Gilad Farm and added that those who attacked security forces would be identified and brought to trial. Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that in the matter of breaking the law, there will be no compromises; but said that we should not cast blame at the large public living in these areas where there are harsh daily confrontations.