Jerusalem, 26 January 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), January 26, 2003:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon discussed the issue of US economic aid and reminded ministers that a delegation headed by Prime Minister’s Bureau Director Dov Weisglass went to the US two weeks ago to deal with the matter. The Prime Minister welcomed the continuation of the Israel-US talks, as per the White House announcement of last Friday, in which the US reiterated its deep commitment to Israel’s economic progress. The Prime Minister added that the US had made it clear that while it recognized the damage that the continuing war on terrorism has inflicted on the Israeli economy, it had great confidence in the Israeli economy and was considering ways to strengthen Israel’s economic future. Finally, the Prime Minister noted that the US statement said talks on the issue would resume in the near future, and remarked that this boded well with regard to Israel’s request for economic assistance.

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security issues, relating specifically to the inspectors’ report on their findings in Iraq, which is due by the end of the month; the Israeli elections; US President Bush’s State of the Union address, which is expected to clarify his intentions vis-a-vis Iraq; and the ‘Bush-Blair’ summit to be held on Saturday, January 31, 2003.

Defense Minister Mofaz said that Israel remains in the throes of a terrorist onslaught in the run-up to the elections, and added that the scope of warnings and attempted attacks is very high. The Defense Minister discussed the Cairo meeting, work being carried out on the seam line fence, Hizbullah’s attack against a northern IDF outpost which included missile and mortar fire, the preparations for the elections and a possible US attack on Iraq.

3. The Cabinet ratified an aviation agreement with Macedonia.