Jerusalem, 9 February 2003

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), February 9, 2003:

1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security matters including the US’s uncompromising position vis-a-vis a war against Iraq, and noted that the Home Front is continuing with its efforts to prepare Israeli citizens for this war.

Defense Minister Mofaz commented on Palestinian terror activities against Israel and noted that comprehensive operations by the defense establishment have been successful in thwarting many of these attempts.

Defense Minister Mofaz discussed last week’s main terror attacks and also referred to the Cairo talks on a possible cease-fire and the construction of the northern section of the seam zone fence.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Amos Gilad briefed ministers on Israel’s dealing with humanitarian aspects of the civilian Palestinian population, and detailed measures designed to ease conditions ahead of the Eid Al-Adha festival. Major-General Gilad noted that Israel is trying to ease restrictions and prevent friction wherever possible.

2. Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, briefed ministers on his recent visit to the US, and on his participation in the memorial ceremony for the Columbia astronauts. Finance Minister Shalom also discussed his talks with President Bush regarding further Israeli participation in space research.

3. The Cabinet – under the authority of Article 8 of the 1948 Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance – decided that the organization known as the "Heritage Committee" (as well as its other names: the "Islamic Justice and Correction Movement," the "Alsanabal" association, and the "Islamic Consciousness Committee") is a terrorist organization.

Beginning in the mid-1980s, an Islamic organization began to operate on the Temple Mount, the avowed goal of which was seemingly innocent, but which acted as an arm of Hamas; this body is known as the "Heritage Committee." The "Heritage Committee" professed to be engaged in increasing Islamic awareness of the sanctity of Jerusalem in general and the Temple Mount in particular, maintaining the city’s mosques and undertaking charitable and organizational activities. However, the "Heritage Committee" supports and finances terrorism via Hamas funds from abroad. These funds have been outlawed in Israel. The "Heritage Committee" is directed by Hamas fund managers who transmit their orders to the "Heritage Committee" leadership, which then reports back to the fund managers abroad. The "Heritage Committee" is directly involved in inflammatory preaching, which is tantamount to incitement vis-a-vis the Temple Mount and the State of Israel and which calls for Hamas-style attacks on civilians. The employees of the "Heritage Committee" are known past and present Hamas terrorists.

4. The Cabinet ratified the 1998 International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombing.

5. The cabinet approved the appointment of Mr. Eli Shaked as Israeli Ambassador to Egypt, Mr. Yaacov Hadas-Hendsman as Israeli Ambassador to Jordan, and Mr. Jeremy Issacharof as Israeli Ambassador to India and Non-Resident Ambassador to Sri Lanka.