Jerusalem, 12 January 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), January 12, 2003:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat’s remarks to the terrorist organizations to the effect that the latter should refrain from terror attacks until after the Jan 28, 2003 elections. The Prime Minister said that for the PA Chairman, the murder of Israelis – in addition to being a constant and permanent goal – is a political consideration. "Before the elections, it is OK to commit murder. Close to the election date, it’s better not to. After the elections, it’s OK to continue. Here, we clearly see Yasser Arafat’s true face, which is so well known to us."

Prime Minister Sharon added that such remarks underscore what Israel has maintained for the past two years – that Yasser Arafat has established, is responsible for and leads a coalition of terror, which he can leash or unleash and use as he pleases. The Prime Minister asserted that one cannot negotiate with such a man and added that any attempt to do so will only harm our ability to achieve security and peace in this land. All those who aspire to peace between peoples must understand that Yasser Arafat is an obstacle to peace who must leave the political stage.

Prime Minister Sharon referred to the "London meeting" and said that Israel has expressed its opposition to holding a discussion on Palestinian Authority reforms in London. Such reforms, the Prime Minister declared, must be carried out here. The Prime Minister added that Israel takes a grave view of a discussion on its future that is due to be held without its participation.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated that invitations to Arafat from outside bodies prolong and strengthen his influence over the terror organizations.

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security issues and also discussed Israel’s preparedness for the possibility of a US attack on Iraq.

3. The Cabinet approved, in principle, the proposed amendments to Basic Law: Knesset (on suspending an MK), and the draft political parties law regarding party primaries. The Cabinet appointed the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to draft the above laws and present them to the Knesset.

The purpose of the proposed amendment to Basic Law: Knesset is to prevent an MK, who attained his position by subverting the law, from taking his/her seat. Any MK who is suspected of criminal action will be suspended until the end of his/her trial

The aim of the amendment to the political parties law is to assure integrity in the manner in which members are selected for the party Knesset lists, while leaving as much autonomy as possible for the parties’ particular electoral systems. The amendment proposes a system in which the larger parties will be required to elect their party lists by direct election involving all party members. The Parties Registrar will set a date for party primaries and each party will be allowed to select the way in which they are to be carried out, as well as the method of supervision, but the rules will require approval by the Parties Registrar, who will not be permitted to approve them in the event that there is no way to assure integrity and fairness. When the party list is submitted, the party and the supervising body will at the same time, attach an affidavit that the elections were carried out properly.

It is also proposed that the large parties will periodically register their members with the registrar in order to locate those persons who are members of more than one party. On the matter of financing the primaries, it is proposed that a supervisory body receive a report from every candidate detailing donations and expenses and a list of donors. The body will transfer the list to the Parties Registrar, where it will be open for public scrutiny.