Jerusalem, April 27, 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), April 27, 2003:

1. ISA Director Avi Dichter briefed ministers on the current situation in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza strip, and on efforts by various terror organizations to perpetrate attacks in Israel. The ISA Director also commented on the relationship between Prime Minister elect Abu Mazen and Yasser Arafat in light of the establishment of a new Palestinian government and the pressure placed on Yasser Arafat to accept Abu Mazen’s demands.

2. The Prime Minister’s Bureau Chief, attorney Dov Weissglass, gave details of his talks in the US on the ‘road map.’ Attorney Weissglass noted that his meeting in the White House on April 14, 2003 was held in a pleasant and friendly atmosphere, and that he was able to express Israel’s concerns to the US administration. Attorney Weissglass listed all of Israel’s fifteen comments, which were submitted to the American team in that meeting.

3. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on the battle against Palestinian terror, and said that there has been an upsurge in efforts by the terror organizations to perpetrate terror attacks. Defense minister Mofaz noted that a decisive majority of these attempts had been thwarted by Israel’s security forces, including a massive terror attack which was planned for the first day of the Passover celebrations.

Defense Minister Mofaz emphasized that the Palestinians are still not working comprehensively to prevent terror, except for in a few isolated incidents. Israel continues in its security policy, which includes continuous pressure on terrorist centers, arresting wanted fugitives, demolishing houses of those who perpetrate suicide bombs and thwarting ‘ticking bombs’.

The Defense Minister gave details of major terrorist incidents in the last two weeks, and of security forces operations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza strip. Defense Minister Mofaz also discussed the establishment of Abu Mazen’s government, the situation in Iraq since the US successfully completed its military operations, relations between Syria and the US and IDF plans for 2003 in light of cuts in the defense budget.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz remarked on the Shamgar committee report on the Kishon river divers.

4. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom updated ministers on his visit to Turkey and detailed the messages he passed on to its leaders. Foreign Minister Shalom presented Turkish policy on regional matters. In addition, the Foreign Minister remarked on relations between Syria and the US, the Palestinian issue, the ‘road map’ and the expected visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell.

5. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister Meir Sheetrit, Finance Ministry budget manager and the Finance Ministry General Director briefed ministers on talks with Histadrut representatives on the economic plan which was approved by the government. Suggestions for possible negotiations and the response of Histadrut representatives were presented to the government.

The Finance Ministry Director General discussed US loan guarantees, which are dependent on the implementation of the economic plan. The Attorney General raised several legal issues in connection to the plan.

The government decided, in light of the serious economic situation and the situation of negotiations with the Histadrut, to instruct the committee for amending legislation to implement government decisions on the economic plan to improve the economy, to complete the legislative procedures needed to pass the plan in the first reading in the Knesset on Wednesday, April 30, 2003. The government decided, at the same time, to continue with negotiations with Histadrut representatives until the Knesset is assembled, in the hope of arriving at an agreement, instead of legislation. The government also decided, to continue with negotiations after the first reading, with the aim of reaching an agreement.

6. The government decided according to paragraph 18 of Basic Law: The President, that President Katzav will leave for a State visit to Poland following an invitation from the Polish President. In addition to meeting Polish leaders, the President will attend together with the Polish President the "march of the living" and state events in Warsaw marking 60 years since the Warsaw ghetto uprising.