Jerusalem, 23 February 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), February 23, 2003:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eulogized Isser Harel, former Head of the Mossad who passed away at the end of last week, and Shlomo Argov, former Israeli ambassador to Britain who was injured in an attempted assassination in 1982, and who passed away this morning. The Attorney General eulogized former ambassador Shlomo Argov.

Prime Minister Sharon sends his and the States of Israel’s condolences to the Harel and Argov families.

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security issues, relating to the US preparation of the political and military ground for an attack against Iraq. The Defense Minister noted that Israel is continuing in its efforts to prepare the country for the attack.

Defense Minister Mofaz gave details of the security establishment’s continuing efforts to thwart Palestinian terror, and emphasized that Hamas has suffered many continuous and painful strikes in the last week. Defense Minister Mofaz clarified that Israel will continue with its ongoing pressure on the Hamas infrastructure.

The Defense Minister instructed the IDF to make every effort to prevent Kassam rockets from being launched. In addition to IDF operations in the Gaza Strip, IDF forces have begun an operation to harm the terror infrastructure in the Casba in Nablus. This area is considered to be the center for terror activity in Judea and Samaria.

3. The government decided to formulate an aid plan for Sderot, considering the difficult security and economic situation it is in.

The plan will be implemented according to the structure of aid to northern communities on the confrontation line for the year 2003, according to their specific needs. An inter-office team will be set up for this purpose.

4. Director General of the Prime Minister’s office, Avigdor Yitzchaki, briefed the government on the conclusions of the committee to improve the public sector.