Jerusalem, December 7, 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), December 7, 2003:

1. Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon briefed ministers on IDF counter-terrorism activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the foiling of terrorist attacks inside Israel and the prevention of smuggling war materiel into the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the situation in northern Israel, Chief-of-Staff Yaalon said that while the area is on the whole quiet, Hizbullah and its supporters continue to aid Palestinian terrorism by transferring considerable sums in order to finance acts of terrorism, weapons smuggling and professional training.

Chief-of-Staff Yaalon referred to the Egyptian-mediated discussions being held in Cairo between the various Palestinian organizations on a ceasefire, while at the same time continuing to open fire at road traffic, and launching mortar and small arms fire at [Jewish] communities and IDF positions in the Gaza Strip. There are also attempts to perpetrate suicide attacks inside Israel.

Chief-of-Staff Yaalon detailed the IDF’s achievements in locating and destroying tunnels for smuggling war materiel [in the Gaza Strip], discovering explosives laboratories, and the recent operation in Ramallah, as well as the killing of three terrorists near the security fence in the Gaza Strip.

Chief-of-Staff Yaalon referred to policy toward the Palestinian civilian population and made it clear that the IDF has recently eased a series of restrictions in lower-risk areas and .

2. The Cabinet discussed the representation of Israeli positions internationally, including difficulties faced on professional and financial levels. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom emphasized the need for cooperation between the various bodies involved in representing Israel abroad, as well as the need for a unified message and an increase in activity by government spokespersons in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry.

The government appointed a team headed by Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon to submit a list of recommendations on this matter to the Cabinet within 45 days.