(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 13 March 2005:

1. The Cabinet appointed Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz as the IDF’s 18th Chief-of-Staff.  As is proven from his CV, Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz comes from the IDF’s combat forces, and has a significant amount of experience in senior command and staff positions. Maj.-Gen. Halutz has a broad view of processes, personal and systemic openness, and possesses analytical, deductive, planning and implementation abilities.

Defense Minister Mofaz said that he considered the appointment of the Chief-of-Staff against a background of the challenges facing the State of Israel and the IDF in the future.  Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz was found to be an officer with vision, foresight and planning, and is endowed with imagination and flexibility.

The Defense Minister made it clear that he has before him the comments of Attorney General Meni Mazuz on the need to limit the term of the Chief-of-Staff, despite the fact that this has never been a factor in appointing a Chief-of-Staff in the past and that it is not entrenched in the law.  Defense Minister Mofaz stated that he would propose a bill that would allow the Government to fix the term of the Chief-of-Staff.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz will be an excellent Chief-of-Staff who will lead the IDF towards the complex missions before it.

Prime Minister Sharon, on behalf of the Government, thanked Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya’alon for his successful command of the IDF, for leading it to impressive achievements and for the important part he played in the battle against terror – a battle that has continued under his command.

2. The Cabinet approved the recommendations of the committee on reforming the reserve duty system and assigned to the security establishment the responsibility for preparing a bill that would provide a legislative basis for the principals of the reserve duty system reforms and to submit it as soon as possible for approval to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

The aforesaid committee, chaired by Prof. Avishai Braverman, submitted its conclusions and recommendations to the Cabinet regarding the new reserve duty model and the to anchor it in legislation.  The recommendations relate to designation of reserve duty assignments, situations in which reservists may be called to active duty, length of time spent in annual reserve duty; exemptions from reserve duty and the age from which a person is exempt; compensation and remuneration; ongoing security needs, etc.

3. The Cabinet decided to approve in principle the bill proposing a change to article 58 of the 1994 National Health Insurance Law and charged the Ministerial Committee on Legislation with drawing up the final version of the bill to be submitted to the Knesset.  The amendment will ease matters for returning citizens vis-a-vis their eligibility for health services.

4. The Cabinet decided to allow the continuation of the Metzila branch of the Public Security Ministry and annulled its decision of 15 September 2003 to disband it.

5. The Cabinet discussed the removal of dangerous substances from electro-chemical factories and agreed that all government offices connected to this issue would aid in coming to an agreement with the employees to assure their safety, in order to allow the removal of these substances.  The Israel Police will also aid in securing the operation and the Environment Ministry and Finance Ministry Budget Department will also be involved in the operation.

6. Regarding attorney Talia Sasson’s report on unauthorized outposts, the Cabinet decided as follows:

a. The Cabinet thanks attorney Talia Sasson for her opinion, which she prepared following a request from Prime Minister Sharon regarding the unauthorized outposts and expresses appreciation of her thorough and detailed work.

b. The Cabinet ascribes great importance to dealing with the findings and recommendations of the opinion regarding unauthorized outposts.  The Cabinet agrees that any allocating, planning, establishing and populating of communities, whether existing or new, in Judea and Samaria must be carried out legally and according to Cabinet decisions.

c. In order to ensure this, a ministerial committee is to be set up, which will form, and submit to the Government, detailed draft decisions regarding the recommendations in paragraphs 12.1, 12.2 and 12.3 of the report.  The committee will be comprised of the following ministers:

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni – Committee Chairwoman
Housing and Construction Minister Isaac Herzog
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz
National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Yisrael Katz
Education, Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat
Health Minister Dan Naveh
Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz

The ministerial committee will complete its work within 90 days.

d. To assign to the security establishment, in accordance with the instructions of Attorney General Mazuz, the responsibility for amending the security legislation for Judea and Samaria, within 30 days, as referred to in article 12.4 of the report.

e. To assign to the security establishment, in coordination with the Justice Ministry, the responsibility for drafting the necessary amendments to the security legislation as referred to in article 12.5 of the report.  The draft amendments will be submitted to the aforementioned ministerial committee.

f. The recommendations in article 12.6 regarding the need to take legal steps will be transferred to Attorney General Mazuz.

g. Israel is committed to the Roadmap, which was approved by Government decision #292 of 25 May 2003, in which during the first stage, Israel must dismantle unauthorized outposts established since March 2001; Israel’s government will honor this commitment.