(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet, at its weekly meeting today (Sunday), 28 November 2004:

1. Prime Minister Sharon eulogized Rafael Eitan and said: “Last week former Deputy Prime Minister, Rafael “Raful” Eitan, passed away. Raful’s life was intertwined with the history of the State of Israel – his childhood in the Jezreel Valley, his recruitment to the Palmach, his service as a paratrooper and to his command of the IDF.  He was a brave man, who let his actions speak for themselves.  Whole generations of soldiers were educated about his legacy and many others will be so educated.  I will not be exaggerating if I say that the State of Israel is indebted to his sacrifices, decisiveness and bravery.

As a Chief-of-Staff, Raful left an everlasting impression on Israeli society, with a unique project, which resulted in the recruitment of thousands of youths, “Raful’s kids,” who no one believed in.  Raful turned them into equal citizens, who will always be indebted to the man who believed in them.  In the fifteen years he worked in politics, including sitting around this table, Raful stood out as a man of honesty.  I did not always agree with him, but as someone who fought alongside him in all of Israel’s wars, I knew that his intentions were always to do the best for the people of Israel.  The State of Israel remembers its heroes; the State of Israel will always remember Raful Eitan, a hero of Israel.”

Minister Eliezer Zandberg also eulogized Raful, and said that he had the honour of working alongside him.  His relationship with Raful began in Tzomet, which he founded and ran as an ideological movement and then a political party.  Minister Zandberg said that Raful always held the State above everything else and that he devoted himself to everything in the national-Zionist sphere – as a fighter in the Palmach, as a military commander, and as a political leader.  Raful refused to adopt symbols of authority and formalities of ceremony; for him truth was in actions, with hard work and brave actions.  Raful believed that national and social strength were connected to each other.  For him, education was the most important matter on the agenda.

Minister Meir Shetrit briefed ministers on the results of the committee that was appointed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Raful’s death.

2. The cabinet decided, in accordance with Basic Law: The Government, to change the distribution of ministerial portfolios as follows: Minister Gideon Ezra will be Minister for Public Security in addition to his position as Tourist Minister. The decision will be brought to the Knesset for approval as required by law.

3. The Cabinet decided, in accordance with both the 1959 Civil Service Law and the recommendation of the Civil Service Committee, to exempt from public tender the position of Director-General to the National Testing and Assessment Authority, and decided that the nominee for the post will be chosen by a candidate search committee, the rules of which have been determined by the Cabinet.

In continuation of the Cabinet’s decision regarding the start of the implementation of the national education plan, Education, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat – after staff work and with the agreement of the Civil Service Commission, as well as the Finance and Justice ministries – decided to establish the aforementioned authority as a unit within her ministry.

The authority will be the guiding, leading and professional education establishment body regarding the testing and assessing of academic achievements.

Since the establishment of the authority is critically important it is vital that it be led by an outstanding professional in the field of academic testing and assessment, who also has proven managerial abilities.  In order for the Education Ministry to be able to locate such a candidate, it is vital that a search committee oversee the selection process.

4. The Cabinet, in accordance with both the 1959 Civil Service law, decided to extend the appointment of Dr. Haim Fialkof as Acting Director-General of the Construction and Housing Ministry until the appointment of a permanent Director-General, but for no more than three months.

5. The Cabinet approved amendments to the Prison Service Law so that it might be tabled immediately in the Knesset.

Article 29 of the Prison service by-laws gives the Prison Service the authority to prevent or stop a meeting between a prisoner and his/her attorney if it found that the meeting, which is held on condition of secrecy as established by right, is designed to perpetrate severe offenses.  Up until now, this authority has been used only in reference to security prisoners vis-a-vis the concern that the perpetrating of offenses regarding state public or prison security.

In light of a recent High Court of Justice ruling and the nature of the abovementioned authority, it has become necessary that the Article 29 directives be specified in detail in the primary legislation.

The proposed amendment specifies, in detail, both the right to meet with an attorney in order to receive professional and confidential service and the conditions under which such a meeting may be denied or halted in the exceptional circumstances of a security prisoner meeting with his/her attorney if there are tangible concerns that the right to hold such confidential meetings is being abused in order to perpetrate severe offenses.

6. The Cabinet, in accordance with the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, approved the national infrastructure plan regarding the Lod-Be’er Sheva railway line.  The goal of the project is to improve service on the line.

7. The Cabinet decided to adopt the Environment Ministry’s plan to reduce air and water pollution stemming from the Ramat Hovav industrial zone.

The Environment, Interior and Industry, Trade and Employment ministers will use the powers provided to them by law in order to see to it that the plan to reduce air and water pollution stemming from the Ramat Hovav industrial zone is implemented according to plan, while taking into account the environmental and health affects of this pollution.

The plan includes: dealing with industrial waste, the rehabilitation of the existing evaporation ponds, dealing with air pollution, monitoring and oversight and expediting the treatment of hazardous waste.  Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen will chair a steering committee that will deal with implementing the plan, and which will be professionally assisted by representatives from the relevant government and outside bodies.  The steering committee will consider expediting actions to reduce hazards in order to facilitate the implementation of regional development plans, including establish the IDF’s main training and instruction base near Hanegev junction.  The steering committee will report to the Cabinet every three months.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the plan and its implementation will significantly aid the development of the Negev and will encourage new populations to move to the area.  He emphasized that his government sees developing the Negev as a national priority.

8. The Cabinet approved the appointment of Dan Eshbal as Ambassador to Austria, Naphtali Tamir as Ambassador to Australia and non-resident ambassador to New Zealand, Fiji and Papua-New Guinea.