Jerusalem, February 8, 2004

Cabinet Communique
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), February 8, 2004:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that he was – in accordance with the coalition agreements – appointing a committee to draft a law to replace the so-called Tal Law in order to encourage a broadening of service in the IDF and the transition to work. Minister Tzipi Livni will chair the committee, which will also include Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Yitzhak Levy, MK Ronny Brison and MK Eliezer Cohen. The committee will submit its conclusions within nine months.

Prime Minister Sharon also announced that he was – in accordance with the coalition agreements – appointing Minister Livni to chair a professional task force to consider the feasibility of moving to a five-day workweek, with Saturday and Sunday being days of rest, without reducing the scope of weekly working hours, in order to reduce religious-secular friction and prevent infringing on those who observe tradition. Minister Livni and the ministers who head each coalition faction in the government will appoint a professional team of experts in various fields and submit the composition of the team for Cabinet approval within 21 days.

2. Ministers discussed the local authorities crisis and proposals for resolving it.

3. Minister Natan Sharansky briefed ministers on his visit with Jonathan Pollard in the latter’s US prison.