(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), 21 March 2005:

1. In accordance with the 1954 Bank of Israel Law, the Cabinet decided to recommend that President Moshe Katsav appoint Prof. Stanley Fischer as Governor of the Bank of Israel for a five-year term beginning 1 May 2005, and to agree that Mr. Fischer serve as a member of various international economic institutions/committees including the Advisory Committee to the UN Year of Microcredit, the Institute for International Economics and G-30.

Prof. Fischer is a world-class economist who, by virtue of his economic expertise serves in several international economic institutions. His membership in these institutions is without remuneration and constitute no conflicts-of-interest with serving as Governor of the Bank of Israel. (Article 13 of the 1954 Bank of Israel Law requires Government consent to his serving in these institutions.)

The Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments chaired by retired Judge Gabriel Bach examined Prof. Fischer’s candidacy for the post and decided to positively recommend his appointment to the Government.

Prof. Fischer has completed all of the steps necessary to form an arrangement so as to prevent conflicts-of-interest.

Upon presenting Prof. Fischer’s candidacy, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “I have known Stanley Fischer for many years and I am certain that he will greatly contribute to the State of Israel. Prof. Fischer has done the Zionist thing by immigrating to Israel in order to move the Israeli economy forward and we all wish him success. On behalf of the entire Government, I would like to thank Dr. David Klein for his service as Governor of the Bank of Israel, during which he was a leading partner in lifting the Israeli economy out of recession.”

2. In accordance with the 1954 Bank of Israel Law and pursuant to the foregoing, the Cabinet decided to extend the tenure of Acting Bank of Israel Governor Dr. Meir Sokolov until 30 April 2005.

3. In accordance with both the 2002 Israel Security Agency (ISA) Law and the recommendation of Prime Minister Sharon, the Cabinet decided to appoint Yuval Diskin as Director of the ISA for a five-year term beginning 15 May 2005. Avraham Dichter will stop serving as ISA Director upon Mr. Diskin’s assumption of his post. Notice of the appointment will be published in the official gazette (Reshumot) as required by law.

The Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments chaired by retired Judge Gabriel Bach examined Yuval Diskin’s candidacy for the post of ISA Director and decided to positively recommend his appointment to the Government.

Prime Minister Sharon said, “I am convinced that Yuval Diskin will lead the ISA well in the face of the complex missions facing the State of Israel and we wish him every success in his post.

On behalf of the entire Government, I send thanks to outgoing ISA Director Avi Dichter, who led the organization with great success during a difficult period in the annals of the State. ISA Director Dichter, who still leads the struggle, had a decisive role in the impressive achievements vis-a-vis Palestinian terrorism.”

4. The Cabinet, acting under the authority conferred on it by the 1960 Israel Lands Administration Law, appointed the following persons to the Israel Lands Administration Council: Gaby Golan from the Prime Minister’s Office, on behalf of the Government; Reuven Shalom, on behalf of the Jewish National Fund and in accordance with its proposal (renewal of appointment; and Eitan Broshi, on behalf of the Jewish National Fund and in accordance with its proposal.

5. The Cabinet accepted Communications Minister Dalia Itzik’s proposal and decided, in accordance with the 1990 Second Authority for Television and Radio Law, to appoint Dr. Revida Abu-Ras as a member of the Second Authority for Television and Radio Council in place of Nina Admoni who resigned. Dr. Abu-Ras’s appointment was approved by the appropriate committee in accordance with Article 60A of the 1975 Government Companies Law.

6. The Cabinet, in accordance with the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), decided to appoint Oscar Aburazek as Director-General of the Interior Ministry (in place of Gideon Barlev), effective 4 April 2005.

7. The Cabinet authorized Education, Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat to establish a public council to promote women’s sports in Israel.

8. The Cabinet was briefed on the national health services basket by Prof. Bolislav Goldman, chairman of the public committee on updating the basket.

Prime Minister Sharon made the following remarks:

“After I hear the positions of Health Minister Danny Naveh and Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I intend to recommend that the Cabinet approve a NIS 150 million supplement, in addition to the NIS 200 million that the Government has already approved. The total supplement for this year will thus stand at NIS 350 million – the highest sum that has ever been added to the basket.

I think that the significant improvement in the economic situation must be expressed in the Government’s attitude toward the weaker populations. Approving my recommendation today would be another step in implementing our commitment even as the economy improves, which will also be felt in the Government’s socio-economic policy.

The amount to be added will not break the budgetary framework. I asked Finance Minister Netanyahu to submit to me within a few days several alternatives for financing this supplement. If necessary, the issue of resources will be submitted to the Cabinet at its next meeting.”

The Cabinet decided to approve a NIS 150 million supplement in addition to the NIS 200 million that has already been approved. Finance Minister Netanyahu will submit, within a few days, several alternatives for financing this supplement.  If necessary, the issue of resources will be submitted to the Cabinet at its next meeting.

9. The Cabinet decided to submit to the Knesset forthwith a draft bill, which was formulated by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, to provide for the transfer of dealing with several criminal offenses from the State Prosecutor’s Office to the Israel Police.

10. Education, Culture and Sports Minister Livnat briefed the Cabinet on the university students’ strike.