(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), March 21, 2004:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon briefed ministers on Jordanian King Abdallah II’s visit to the Shikmim Farm last Thursday and said that Israeli-Jordanian relations are strong and continue to strengthen with time. Prime Minister Sharon said that the current relationship is strategic and of great importance to both countries.

The visit was friendly and included discussions on bilateral relations and Jordan’s position on possible solutions in the Middle East. Prime Minister Sharon expressed hope that the visit will help to enhance relations between the two countries.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on current security matters, and noted that there have been increased efforts by terrorist organizations to perpetrate attacks inside Israeli territory. Seven suicide bombings have been thwarted since the beginning of March, and 25 terrorist attacks have been foiled since the beginning of 2004. In light of this, the security establishment has decided to apply continuous pressure against this wave of terror, primarily against Hamas and Tanzim terrorists who are being directed by Hezbollah.

The Defense Minister also commented on his visit to the US, where he met with senior US administration officials in order to discuss – primarily – the disengagement plan. Defense Minister Mofaz also discussed his visit to France, where he met with French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie in order to discuss upgrading security relations between the two countries.

Defense Minister Mofaz announced that Maj. Gen Dan Haluf would be appointed Deputy Chief-of-Staff, effective from this summer.