(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 19 September 2004:

1. ISA Director Avi Dichter and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on ongoing security matters.

Defense Minister Mofaz commented on Palestinian terrorism and noted Israel’s continued success at preventing several harsh terror attacks, especially during the holiday period. The Defense Minister said that the number of women being used to perpetrate terror attacks has become more conspicuous, and that the main focus of the security establishment at present is to allow Israeli citizens to enjoy the holiday period without experiencing terrorist attacks. Therefore, the general closure on Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip will continue until after Yom Kippur, when the situation will be re-evaluated.

The Defense Minister also discussed the issues of Iranian nuclear weapons, Egypt’s actions vis-a-vis the Palestinians and technical matters regarding the advancement of the disengagement plan.  Defense Minister Mofaz said that the IDF and the police had been instructed to act against harassment of security officials by a handful of settlers in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked the security establishment – IDF, ISA and Israel Police – for their decisive, diligent and successful work against Palestinian terrorism. The Prime Minister stressed that fighting terror must continue without respite: “We see the preparations, we see the organizing,” and therefore the fight must continue.

Prime Minister Sharon said that it is vital that we act to prevent terrorism during the time of evacuation, since evacuation under fire is inconceivable.

2. Minister Natan Sharansky presented the “Judaism for Everyone” project to the Cabinet, ahead of Yom Kippur. Minister Sharansky said that this project had been established due to the need to turn the Jewish calendar into the central axis, and to establish a Jewish-Israeli culture that is accessible to all members of the population.

The project’s outlook is that Jewish heritage is relevant to everyone, and the plan proposes that there be a common cultural milieu that respects everyone.

Participating in the project are immigrants, veteran Israelis, secular and traditional Israelis, and representatives of all streams.  The project is being carried out by the Office of the Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Sharansky; the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, the Yahad, Amiel and Tzohar organizations, and community centers. New immigrants, veterans, secular, traditional and representatives from all sectors are taking part in the project; activities are national and not political.

Minister Sharansky noted that there would be 195 centers for those who wish to pray on Yom Kippur. The prayers will be guided, condensed and discussions will be held at the end.  They will be held in Hebrew and Russian; 23,000 people are expected to participate.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked those working on the project and emphasized its importance, as well as the need to widen it in order to strengthen the connection between Judaism and our right to the Land of Israel.

3. The Cabinet decided to support the legislative proposals of MKs Inbal Gavrieli Gila Gamliel, which call for adding representatives of the colleges to the Higher Education Council.  The proposals will be transferred to the Knesset Education and Culture Committee.

4. Prime Minister Sharon wished ministers and their families a happy new year.