(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), September 14, 2003:
1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on joint security matters and noted that after several weeks in which security forces had successfully thwarted many terror attacks, the terrorist organizations were able to perpetrate two suicide bombings, at Tzrifin and at the Cafe Hillel in Jerusalem. Defense Minister Mofaz added that Israel is in the midst of an all-out war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria, where Israeli security forces have recently carried out eight preemptive operations targeting terrorists, and have arrested many. Israel’s continuous attacks are placing a considerable amount of pressure on Hamas, and its terrorists feel pursued and threatened, causing them to, first and foremost, be concerned with their own safety. The security forces intend to continue to act in this manner.
Defense Minister Mofaz pointed out that in the absence of the separation fence, the principal threat to the heart of the State is from the terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria; therefore, the security cabinet has adopted the security establishment’s recommendation to provide the necessary means to increase the security presence in Judea and Samaria and to hasten the construction of the security fence.
The Defense Minister also discussed the fall of Abu Mazen’s government, which, he said, illuminates more than anything else, how Arafat has acted as an obstacle to the entire process. In light of this situation, the security cabinet decided in principle that action should be taken to remove Arafat as an obstacle to the process of reconciliation and peace. Furthermore, Israel will not cooperate with those who do Arafat’s bidding; all Palestinian governments must adopt a policy which disavows terror, unifies the security forces under one body not controlled by Arafat, advance security and diplomatic reforms and demonstrate independence from Arafat. It was further decided that there could be no progress in the political process without the forming of a Palestinian government that genuinely deals with terror, and that until such a step is taken, Israel will continue to do so. At the same time, Israel continues to see itself as committed to US President George Bush’s vision, and to the steps laid out in the road map.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom discussed world reaction to the decision to remove Arafat and said that the US, Europe, Russia and the Arab world have all expressed reservations to the decision. The international press has covered the matter extensively. The Foreign Minister noted that while no one argues that Arafat constitutes an obstacle to peace, there is considerable disagreement as to actually expelling him. Israel calls on the international community to completely condemn terror and to act immediately to implement the road map. Israel believes that Arafat was, and remains, an obstacle to peace, and urges the international community to work together in order to remove this obstacle, which is frustrating all chances of peace.
Foreign Minister Shalom commented on the decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency to demand that Iran submit a detailed response on the matter of its atomic capabilities and programs by October 31, 2003.
Foreign Minister Shalom briefed ministers on the EU’s decision to include the entire Hamas organization, without any distinction between its political and military wings, in its official list of terror organizations. The Foreign Minister also discussed his visit to Morocco, the talks he held there, and the warm atmosphere with which he was received.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Justice Minister Joseph Lapid, Education, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Yisrael Katz briefed ministers on their visit to India, and noted that meetings took place in a friendly atmosphere in which the Indian government expressed its desire to increase cooperation with Israel.
2. The Cabinet discussed a proposal by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon regarding the report of the State Commission of Inquiry into the October 2000 clashes between the security forces and Israeli citizens (the "Or Commission"). Prime Minister Sharon thanked the members of the Commission and its Chairman, Judge Theodore Or and then made the following remarks:
"First, Israel’s Arab citizens deserve equality as a right, and not a privilege – and we are still far away from this. My government has put this issue high on its list of priorities. I personally chair a ministerial committee on this matter. This is a primary goal for this government. There are many more things which must be done in order to reach genuine equality of rights and obligations between Jews and Arabs.
Second, the vast majority of the Arab public is law-abiding and has the right to demonstrate and protest within the framework of the law. But there is a vocal, extremist, inciting minority, several of whose members are in detention today on suspicion of cooperating with the worst of the nation’s enemies.
The State of Israel is a law-abiding nation. And as such, it cannot countenance a return to a state of disturbances, riots and violent, organized uprising. Jaffa will not be cut off from Tel Aviv; [the] Wadi Ara [road] will not be closed; the Galilee will not be cut off from the center of the country; buses in the Negev will not be stoned. The law will be upheld and enforced.
Jews and Arabs will live together and can live together – and for this to happen, two things must occur – the law must be fully upheld by all and justice must be carried out."
Regarding the Israel Police, Prime Minister Sharon said: "The report raises severe shortcomings that must be examined and repaired; all lessons must be drawn. But, we must not, even for a moment, forget the police personnel who stand in the streets of Jerusalem today, patrol the seam line and prevent terrorist attacks, sometimes with their bodies. Israel Police and Border Police officers carry a common security burden, night and day, and do truly holy work in protecting the peace and security of the citizens of Israel. They deserve full backing, esteem and gratitude. We have a good and strong police force that will know how to correct shortcomings, draw lessons and continue to protect the lives, security and property of Israeli citizens, Jewish and Arab alike."
After Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein and Israel Police Commissioner Shlomo Aharonishky commented on the report’s conclusions and recommendations, the Cabinet discussed Prime Minister Sharon’s proposal. The Cabinet decided as follows:
"The report of the State Commission of Inquiry chaired by Judge Theodore Or on the October 2000 clashes between the security forces and Israeli citizens was delivered to the government on September 1, 2003.
The Cabinet would like to thank the members of the Or Commission and express its esteem for their comprehensive and fundamental work.
- According to Israeli government practice, the recommendations of a state commission of inquiry must be accepted unless there are especially compelling circumstances not to. Our approach in principle is, therefore, that recommendations must be accepted and in this spirit, the Government so directs the ministerial committee that is being formed.
- The Government accepts the recommendations included in the Commission report regarding the performance, status and future of the persons described in the Commission report.
- The importance of the other issues raised in the report, as well as the Or Commission’s conclusions and recommendations, require thorough and fundamental study before they are submitted to a final decision by the Government. Therefore, it is decided to establish a ministerial committee to conduct a thorough and fundamental study of the Or Commission report and submit to the Government, within 60 days, its opinion regarding the remaining recommendations that were detailed in the report, and – according to its judgment – make such additional recommendations as it deems necessary. The committee will be chaired by Justice Minister Joseph Lapid and include: Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, Immigrant Absorption Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, Construction and Housing Minister Effi Eitam, Tourism Minister Benny Elon and Minister without Portfolio Gideon Ezra. The Attorney General and a representative from the National Security Council will be permanently invited to attend the committee’s discussions."
3. The Government decided that the State of Israel will join the Bank of International Settlement as a stockholder and to this end, authorized the Bank of Israel to purchase the allocated number of BIS shares on behalf of the State of Israel.
||Cabinet Communique – Sept 11, 2003|