(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 13 February 2005:

1. The cabinet discussed the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee on the Release of Palestinian Prisoners and decided as follows:

a) To recommend to President Moshe Katsav and the authorized bodies that 500 Palestinian prisoners and detainees be released, in accordance with the list that was submitted to the committee today.

b) Coordination for implementing the release will be carried out by a committee chaired by Justice Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitz and with the participation of representatives from all relevant bodies.

2. The cabinet, in accordance with the 1959 Civil Service Law
(Appointments), decided to appoint Avraham Balashnikov as Director-General of the Communications Ministry.  Since July 2002, he has served as deputy director-general of the Israel Export Institute.  He is 38, married, and the father of four children.

3. The cabinet approved the appointment of Dr. Yitzhak Ben-Gad as consul-general in Miami.  He has a PhD in Middle Eastern studies and has previously held both teaching and public positions.

4. The cabinet approved the following Foreign Service appointments: Harry Kani-Tel – ambassador to the Netherlands; Miriam Shomrat – ambassador to Norway and non-resident ambassador to Iceland; Doron Mordechai Grossman – ambassador to South Africa and non-resident ambassador to Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland; Yoel Barnea – ambassador to Uruguay; David Cohen – ambassador to Chile; Menashe Bar-On – ambassador to Panama; Shmuel Meirom – ambassador to Croatia; Yigal Baruch Caspi – ambassador to South Korea; Uri Gutman – consul-general in Shanghai; Daniel Zohar Zonshein – consul-general in Bombay; Baruch Bina – consul-general in Chicago; and Mordechai Amichai – consul-general in Istanbul.

5. The cabinet, in accordance with the 1998 National Parks, Nature Reserves, National Sites and Memorial Sites Law, decided to accept the recommendation of Environment Minister Shalom Simhon and appoint the following persons as members of the Israel Nature and National Parks Protection Authority plenum:
Aran Nitzan – Finance Ministry representative, Carmit Fintz-Kedmi – Tourism Ministry representative, and Omer Sela – National Infrastructures Ministry representative. The aforementioned will serve four-year terms, according to law.

6. The cabinet, in accordance with Article 16b of the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), accepted the recommendation of Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander and decided that only Israeli citizens may be appointed to senior positions at the rank of senior deputy director-general and/or senior division manager and above.

Given the sensitivity of the positions, the cabinet has accordingly decided to publish its decision in Reshumot (the official gazette) that only Israeli citizens may be appointed to the positions.

7. The cabinet, in accordance with Article 4b of Basic Law: The Judiciary, that in addition to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Ministers Danny Naveh, Haim Ramon and Yitzhak Herzog (in place of Minister Gideon Ezra) will also serve on the Judges’ Election Committee.

The cabinet, in accordance with the 1962 Druse Religious Courts Law, also decided that, in addition to Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Minister Haim Ramon (in place of Minister Tzahi Hanegbi) would serve as a member of the Druse religious judges’ election committee.

8. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Interior Minister Ophir
Pines-Paz briefed ministers on the severe events that occurred over the weekend in Maghar village.  The ministers clarified the background to the events and discussed both the great damage that was caused to property and the injuries to people in wake of the aforementioned events.  The ministers noted that the damage was considerable and the scenes were harsh.

Internal Security Minister Ezra made it clear that the Israel Police is
investigating what transpired in Maghar.  Prime Minister Ariel Sharon referred to the severity of the events and directed that the investigation be finished forthwith and presented to the cabinet at its next meeting.  The prime minister also directed Interior Minister Pines-Paz to coordinate matters regarding the issue of damages.

9. Ministers Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Haim Ramon raised the issue of the spreading violence in the country and the violent and threatening remarks against Prime Minister Sharon and other ministers.  The cabinet held a preliminary discussion of the issue.  Prime Minister Sharon directed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz the ISA and the Israel Police to present to the cabinet forthwith the steps that are to be taken in
order to rein in violently unruly behavior.