(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), October 26, 2003:
1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to the ninth anniversary of the peace treaty with Jordan and said that it was very important. He noted that it had been signed while the late Yitzhak Rabin was Prime Minister and followed the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s peace treaty with Egypt.
Prime Minister Sharon said that relations with Jordan were good, especially in the fields of security, strategic cooperation and economics.
Prime Minister Sharon pointed to bilateral relations with Jordan as an example of the kind of relations that it would be possible to have even now with other Arab states and said that such relations should be developed. He referred to his and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom’s meetings with Moroccan King Mohammed VI, Jordanian King Abdullah II, and foreign ministers from Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Oman, as well as with the Crown Prince of Bahrain, as an example of the relations Israel could have with Arab countries.
Prime Minister Sharon commented on the "Geneva agreement" and said that efforts must be made against the adoption of the "Geneva agreement" and the aid given to it by various European countries. He called on Foreign Minister Shalom to continue diplomatic activity to this end.
Prime Minister Sharon called on ministers traveling abroad to stress the importance of immigration to Israel in their meetings with Jewish community leaders and organizations and of the necessity to condemn recent outbreaks of anti-Semitism around the world.
2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on security matters and noted that last week had been marked with increased efforts by terrorist organizations to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, given that it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to perpetrate acts of terror inside Israel. He referred to the deadly attacks at Netzarim and Ein Yabrud, and Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Mofaz made it clear that efforts to reach those who perpetrated and who were responsible for the Ein Yabrud and Netzarim attacks would continue. He also discussed the continuation of IDF efforts in Rafiah to destroy the network of tunnels there.
Defense Minister Mofaz discussed the security void on the Palestinian side and said that the fate of Abu Ala’s government would be decided by November 4, 2003. He said that Arafat is continuing his efforts to torpedo the establishment of a responsible Palestinian government, a fact which makes it clear that Israel has no partner with whom it can advance US President George Bush’s vision and the roadmap. In light of the foregoing, Israel will continue to act on its own against the infrastructures of terror wherever they may be.
Defense Minister Mofaz commented on the situation on the northern border and said that while the air force attack approximately two weeks ago has created embarrassment and a dilemma in Damascus, Israel is ready for any development.
Regarding Iran, Defense Minister Mofaz made it clear that international pressure on Iran over the nuclear issue was bearing fruit. The Iranians have announced their willingness to sign the additional protocol of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (which allows inspections of its nuclear facilities) and to halt uranium enrichment.
Minister Mofaz noted that although international pressure has proven effective, its achievement is limited, since Iran has no intention of ceasing its nuclear program.
Defense Minister Mofaz also discussed criticism of the IDF following the recent terror attacks in which IDF soldiers were murdered and said that in order to fully understand the events that took place, we must wait for the results of the IDF investigations.
3. Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon briefed ministers on joint security matters and commented on the recent attacks in Ein Yabrud and Netzarim, and IDF operations in the Gaza Strip and in the north.
4. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on diplomatic matters. Minister Shalom remarked that this is the ninth anniversary of the signing of the Peace Agreement with Jordan and noted that Israel and Jordan have since enjoyed bilateral relations and have an increase in trade. The Foreign Minister said that he hopes the Jordanian Ambassador will return to Israel soon and sent his best wishes to the King Abdullah II, the Jordanian Government and Jordanian people, and expressed his desire for continued development and strengthening of the bilateral relations between the two states.
Foreign Minister Shalom summarized his visit to Germany, and specifically mentioned his efforts regarding POWs and MIAs, and attempts to include Iran in the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Foreign Minister Shalom commented on the UN Security Council’s and UN General Assembly’s discussion on the security fence and said that the decision taken was far more complex than the original proposal, and included condemnation of terror and specifically referred to the October 4, 2003 terror attack at the Maxim restaurant in Haifa.
Foreign Minister Shalom noted that the US has rejected the Russian proposal to raise the issue of the roadmap in the UN Security Council.
Foreign Minister Shalom also discussed reports that Canada was considering halting El Al flights to Toronto following the diversion of a flight to Montreal, and said that he had instructed the Israeli Ambassador to Canada to prevent such a step from being taken, and noted that flights were continuing to land in Toronto.
Foreign Minister Shalom said that the Palestinians are continuing their efforts to influence the US regarding the security fence, but added that a Palestinian delegation on this matter received a cold welcome in Congress, and was unable to arrange a meeting with US administration officials.
The Foreign Minister also commented on efforts in the US to have the "Syrian Accountability Act" passed in the Senate.