Jerusalem, December 14, 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on (Sunday), December 14, 2003: 1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made it clear that the State of Israel will not countenance the war of eliminations in the criminal underworld and the harming of innocent civilians. Organized crime has become a national problem and this must stop.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the Government supports the Israel Police and Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky in the struggle against the criminal organizations. While great effort has been invested in this war, there is a need to expand activities and bolster the forces. The Prime Minister stressed that currently there is the need for inter-service cooperation – both regarding a boost to technological and intelligence capabilities, and legislative and penal changes – in order to block this dangerous development. The Government will do whatever is necessary in order to provide for the security of Israel’s citizens, not only regarding external terrorism but in regard to domestic terrorism as well.

Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi and Israel Police Commissioner Aharonishky briefed ministers on the serious issue of organized crime in the State of Israel. They presented the police deployment in the struggle against crime and emphasized the additional resources and personnel needed by the Israel Police, and the main points of Commissioner Aharonishky’s decisions in the wake of last Thursday’s criminal attack in Tel Aviv. The Minister and the Commissioner stressed the need for inter-service cooperation.

Justice Minister Joseph Lapid and International Money Laundering Prohibition Authority Director Yehuda Shaffer detailed the struggle of the Justice Ministry in general, and the International Money Laundering Prohibition Authority in particular, against money-laundering. Minister Lapid emphasized inter-agency cooperation as the key to success in the war against money laundering.

The Cabinet decided (inter alia) to direct Public Security Minister Hanegbi to, within 30 days, submit a detailed action plan for the Israel Police, coordinated with the Justice Ministry and the Finance Ministry, for defeating organized crime. The plan will be submitted to Prime Minister Sharon and, upon its approval, will be swiftly implemented in order to achieve its goals. The plan is to include comprehensive struggles against illegal gambling, drug trafficking, trafficking in women, protection rackets and money laundering.

The Cabinet also decided to direct Justice Minister Lapid to appoint an interministerial team headed by Justice Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitz on the struggle against money laundering.

2. The Cabinet decided to continue its October 2003 decision to dismantle the Ministry of Religious Affairs, while continuing to provide for religious services. To this end, the Cabinet approved the draft Religious Court Judges Law and the draft Chief Rabbinate Law, and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the final wording of each draft law in order to facilitate their submission to the Knesset forthwith.