Jerusalem, March 4, 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the Cabinet meeting today (Tuesday), March 4, 2003

1. At the beginning of the first meeting of the 30th government, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon congratulated the members of the government, and specifically its new ministers. The Prime Minister said that he is sure that this government will achieve the aims it has set for itself: to bring security to the people of Israel, to ensure economic stability and growth, to begin an accelerated political process, and to increase the number of immigrants to Israel.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the government will work together, through cooperation among the different ministries and bodies.

The Prime Minister said that the government will act in accordance with the guidelines approved by the Knesset, and that all policies agreed upon will be fully implemented.

The Prime Minister noted that this government has the capability to remain in power for the full electoral term, and that his role will be mainly as supervisor and inspector, and to follow-up on decisions taken. Therefore the Prime Minister will chair only one committee – the ministerial committee for the non-Jewish sectors of the population.

Prime Minister Sharon said that he intends to continue meeting with ministers in order to prioritize the central activities of their offices. The Prime Minister will hold meetings with each minister once a month, at which the ministers will report on the progress made in their respective offices, and once every three months ministers will present their achievements to the government.

Prime Minister Sharon wished ministers luck in their new positions.

2. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz reviewed current security issues, noting that the United States is continuing to prepare the ground for military action against Iraq, and that the buildup of US and British forces continues.

Defense Minister Mofaz noted that Israel is continuing to prepare for a possible military conflict, based on the principle that Israel should be well prepared. At the same time, we believe that the chances that Israel will be attacked are low.

Defense Minister Mofaz briefed the cabinet on preparations being carried out by the Air Force and the Home Front and on the information campaign. The Defense Minister stressed that this is not Israel’s war and that we do not have any interest in taking part in it. However, Israel retains the right to defend itself in the event that it is attacked.

Defense Minister Mofaz referred to the security situation in Israel, noting that the intensive efforts of the Palestinian terror organizations to perpetrate terror attacks in Israel, Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are continuing. The impression of relative quiet is a result of the high success in thwarting attacks by Israeli security forces. The Defense Minister mentioned recent major terror events.

3. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom spoke of international activity related to the expected war with Iraq, stressing Israel’s preparedness on the international-diplomatic arena.

4. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed ministers on the economic situation:

"Over the past few days there have been reports in the press on issues relating to a new economic policy. I would like to stress that this is extremely irresponsible, unsubstantiated, and not based on any decision. We are in the midst of an accelerated learning process, preparing a budget and preparing an economic plan, which will be presented to the government as soon as possible. All other reports are speculation, and are in no way binding."

5. The cabinet approved, according to the Basic Law: The Government, 2002, the appointment of Attorney Yisrael Maimon as Government Secretary.

6. Prime Minister Sharon announced that Minister Natan Sharansky has been appointed to supervise matters connected to Jerusalem, society and the Diaspora. Minister Gideon Ezar will coordinate between the government and the Knesset.

7. In accordance with the Basic Law: The Government, and with the agreement of the prime minister, the government approved the following appointments of deputy ministers:

  • MK Yitzhak Levy, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office
  • MK Zvi Hendel, Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sport
  • MK Ze’ev Boim, Deputy Minister of Defense
  • MK Victor Brailovsky, Deputy Minister of the Interior
  • MK Michael Ratzon, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade
  • MK Ya’acov Edri, Deputy Minister in a ministry to be announced.

    The Knesset will be informed of these appointments in accordance with the law.