(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), November 16, 2003:
1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sent condolences in the name of the Government and people of Israel to the families of those who were murdered in the double terrorist attack yesterday (Saturday), November 15, 2003, in Istanbul, and also sent his best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery to those who were wounded.
The Prime Minister said that we have seen yet again that terror knows no boundaries, does not differentiate between religion or blood and that its purpose is to sow fear and panic via the murder of innocent civilians.
Prime Minister Sharon expressed his appreciation of the Turkish government and authorities’ swift and professional response to the attacks and added that he was confident that those responsible would be brought to justice.
2. Foreign Ministry Director-General Yoav Biran briefed ministers on yesterday’s terrorist attack in Istanbul in which 20 people – including six Jews – were murdered, and 300 were wounded, (including approximately 100 Jews), of whom 70 are still in hospital (four are in serious condition).
Director-General Biran said that although the attacks were targeted specifically against the Jewish community, they were also an attack against the Turkish people as a whole. This is an additional link in the chain of global terror, which has perpetrated strikes in other locations including Mombassa, Bali and Saudi Arabia among others. These attacks must be viewed in the context of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli incitement in the Arab world and in light of recent anti-Semitic outbursts in Europe. Israel expects the international community to take practical steps against terror in addition to condemning the attacks.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom left for a solidarity visit to Turkey today, where he will visit the attack sites and those who remain in hospital. Foreign Minister Shalom spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, and expressed his condolences and said that Israel would be willing to help in whatever way is needed.
3. The Cabinet decided to give the ministerial committee on the Or Commission report on the clashes between Israeli forces and Israeli citizens in October 2000 an additional 60 days in which to submit its recommendations.