(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 24 October 2004:

1. In accordance with Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided that Minister Ilan Shalgi will serve as Minister of the Environment, and that MK Victor Brailovsky will serve as Minister of Science and Technology. The foregoing will be submitted for Knesset approval. Upon Knesset approval of his new post, MK Brailovsky will stop serving as Deputy Interior Minister.

2. The Cabinet decided to authorize the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the draft 2004 Film Law, which freezes Article 11b of the 1999 Film Law for five years, as of 1 January 2004. Article 11b specifies that the film industry will be allocated a budgetary sum equal to that of the royalties transferred to it in accordance with the Second Television and Radio Authority Law and the Bezek Law.

3. In continuation of its 4 July 2004 decision, the Cabinet decided to approve Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen’s recommendations regarding a special assistance plan for the residents of Sderot and the communities around the Gaza Strip, as follows:

* To work towards the creation of 200 jobs in the greater Sderot area by providing assistance to employers for hiring new workers;

* The new jobs may be in the context of new enterprises, the expansion of existing enterprises or in enterprises that relocate from the center of the country.

* The plan will be operated in a competitive process according to terms set by the Director-General of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment and the Finance Ministry Budget Director, in consideration of the characteristics of the greater Sderot area.

* To this end, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment will establish a committee to publicize decisions regarding the aforementioned process, no later than 15 December 2004.

* The Interior Ministry will provide Sderot with a special NIS 10 million grant per annum, for 2005-06, as assistance to the municipality, and a special NIS 1.5 million grant per annum, for 2005-06, as a matching grant to the municipality for stationing an intensive care ambulance, night doctor and social welfare workers in the city.

* The Interior Ministry will transfer to the regional councils around the Gaza Strip a special NIS 1.5 million grant per annum, for 2005-06, as a matching grant for education, transportation and social welfare projects.

* The residents of Sderot and the communities around the Gaza Strip will receive 50% discounts on local taxes (arnona) for residences, industry, offices, services, commerce, handicrafts and agriculture for 2005-06.

* Factories and businesses in the greater Sderot area will receive 50% local tax (arnona) discounts for 2005-06.

* Factories and businesses located within communities around the Gaza Strip will receive 50% local tax (arnona) discounts for 2005-06.

* The Interior Ministry will transfer to the authorities, special grants to finance the aforementioned discounts; the grants being conditional upon the actual collection of the taxes.

* Interior Minister Avraham Poraz will work to anchor the aforementioned discounts in the relevant by-laws, in accordance with the 1992 Economic Arrangements Law.

The geographical boundaries of the greater Sderot area and the list of communities around the Gaza Strip will be as per previous relevant Cabinet decisions.

The cost of the foregoing is approximately NIS 80 million and was agreed upon by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Industry, Trade and Employment Minister Ehud Olmert, Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Interior Minister Avraham Poraz.

4. In continuation of previous decisions on the Disengagement Plan, the Cabinet decided to approve the principles of the draft 2004 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law, including the amounts and methods of calculation determined therein, and to authorize the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to discuss and approve the draft.

The Cabinet also decided that should the Committee discuss issues that, in the opinion of its Chairman, require Cabinet decisions, the Committee Chairman will submit them to the Cabinet, which will discuss and decide on them, on Tuesday, 26 October 2004.  The Cabinet authorized Minister Meir Shetrit to be responsible for overseeing the legislative processes for the draft law in the Knesset.