Jerusalem, 16 February 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), February 16, 2003:

1. Ministers were briefed on Israel’s preparations ahead of the expected war with Iraq by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Defense Ministry Director General Amos Yaron, Home Front commander Maj. Gen. Yossef Mishlav and Israeli Police Chief Shlomo Aharoniski. The briefings focused on cooperation between the various organizations responsible for defense of the home front and for civilians, and described the means available to the civil and military authorities to defend the State.

Defense Minister Mofaz stated that the US war with Iraq is not Israel’s battle, and that Israel has no intention of being involved in it. In addition it is important to refute all unfounded rumors, and to take care not to create panic and fear among the civilian population.

Defense Minister Mofaz also spoke about the war against Palestinian terrorism and gave details of the number of attacks the IDF has recently thwarted. The Defense Minister emphasized that the Palestinian terror organizations are still involved in intensive efforts to perpetrate attacks in Israel.

Defense Minister Mofaz reported on the attack against a tank near Dugit where four soldiers were killed.

2. Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed ministers on diplomatic steps following Belgium’s Supreme Court decision to allow IDF officers and the Prime Minister to be taken to court, and gave details of the measures taken by the Foreign Ministry on this matter.

2. In the wake of the Belgian Court decision on February 12, 2003, the government agreed to appoint a committee of MKs to be responsible for issues concerning the Diaspora, for immigration and absorption, to examine the repercussions of this ruling on European Jewry, and, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency, to encourage Jewish immigration from those countries to Israel.

4. The cabinet discussed various issues relating to the immigration of the remainder of Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel, and agreed that steps would be taken to ensure that they would be brought to Israel as quickly as possible.