(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 8 May 2005:

1. Prime Minister Sharon said, “This week, the whole world will mark the victory over Nazi Germany. Sixty years after the conclusion of the most horrific war in the history of humanity, it is impossible to downplay the importance of the victory to the world in general and to the Jewish people in particular.

Last Thursday, I participated, along with ministers Hirchson, Pines-Paz and Herzog, and thousands of others from around the world, in the March of the Living, during which we visited the Birkenau and Auschwitz extermination camps. This wasn’t my first visit there but it is always both moving and shocking. What made this year’s visit special was the fact that a group of survivors and their soldier grandchildren accompanied us.

It is difficult to express the feelings we felt. The sight of thousands of people, specifically IDF soldiers, on that cursed land made it clear to the entire world that the Jewish people is strong, that the State of Israel is strong, and that we will never, ever allow this atrocity to happen again.”

Ministers Limor Livnat, Yitzchak Herzog and Ophir Pines-Paz described their feelings as participants in the March of the Living.

2. The Cabinet discussed the Laron Committee report on promoting the integration of the handicapped in the community and decided as follows:

The Cabinet supports the principles laid out in the report.

In wake of the decision, the National Insurance Institute will formulate the necessary legislative amendments by 30 November 2005.

In addition it was decided:

To establish a government monitoring committee in order to implement the Laron Committee’s recommendations, which will be chaired by Social Affairs Ministry Director-General Dov Goldberg. It will include representatives from the Social Affairs Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Finance Ministry, the Health Ministry, the Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Justice Ministry, the National Insurance Institute and a representative of the handicapped community.

The committee will be appointed by Deputy Social Affairs Minister Avraham Ravitz within 30 days and it will appoint the other committees which the Laron Committee recommended.

The committee will report to the Cabinet on the progress in implementing the Laron Committee’s recommendations.  The first report will be submitted within four months.

The Cabinet noted that all aspects relating to accessibility and the database are under the authority the appropriate Justice Ministry officials.

The Cabinet thanked the Laron Committee Chairman Judge (ret.) Ephraim Laron and the other members for their work.

3. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and OC Home Front Maj.-Gen. Yitzhak Gershon briefed ministers on the Home Front Command’s plans for increasing security in the communities surrounding the Gaza Strip.  Prime Minister Sharon said that it is inconceivable that would enable the Palestinians to attack us after disengagement. The Prime Minister said that the release of Palestinian prisoners obligates the Palestinians to fight terrorism since it will not be possible to continue releasing prisoners as long as the Palestinian Authority is not taking the steps it has committed itself to regarding dismantling terrorist infrastructures and collecting illegal weapons.

4. The Cabinet noted that Minister Ehud Olmert, who is responsible for implementing the Israel Broadcast Authority Law, has appointed Yair Aloni as Acting Director-General of the Israel Broadcast Authority for three months or until a new director-general is chosen.

5. The Cabinet, in accordance with its authority under the 1982 Communications Law (Bezek and Services) and Communications Minister Dalia Itzik’s proposal, appointed Ami Gila as the Communications Ministry representative on the Cable and Satellite Broadcasts Council, in place of Tamar Leshem, who has resigned.

6. The Cabinet discussed the issue of agricultural land for the re-establishment of Gaza Strip farms and decided as follows:

A farmer entitled to compensation according to Article 36 of the 2005 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law, who is entitled to receive alternative agricultural land according to the law, will be entitled to an allotment of land, in addition to his relative share of land in areas outside the Gaza Strip, according to one of three alternatives:

* A farmer may request from the Israel Lands Administration (“the Administration”) to allot to him an available plot in an agricultural community in a national preference “A” area in the Negev or the Galilee. Upon the assent of the community cooperative association, the Administration will allot the available plot without charge, in return for renunciation of the compensation they are entitled to for their residential and agricultural plots in the Gaza Strip. The Administration will give the Disengagement Authority a list of available plots of land by 13 May 2005; the Disengagement Authority will transfer that list to the farmers.

* A farmer is entitled to request that the Agriculture Ministry and the Administration allot him an agricultural plot similar in size to the accepted norm in the region, where not more than 40 dunams will be developed for hothouses, in locations in national priority “A” areas, in which land that was temporarily is available for re-allocation. Allocating such land will be in return for renouncing the compensation to which they are entitled by law. The farmer will be obligated to work the land, and not to transfer his rights, or rent, to others. The Disengagement Authority will be in contact with the farmers in order to form, within two weeks, a list of farmers who wish to receive such land in accordance with the foregoing, in order to being preparing the land according to demand.

* A farmer may initiate the purchase of rights to developed agricultural land, in proportion to the amount of land actually worked on by him in recent years in the Gaza Strip, from the fixed squares of the agricultural cooperative associations in national preference “A” areas. The Administration will purchase this land for the farmer at a price of not more than $3,000 per dunam, for a developed area not to exceed 40 dunams. The farmer will pay the value of the purchase, to the extent that it is required. Such purchases of land will be in return for renunciation of the compensation to which they are entitled by law.

Despite the foregoing, a farmer whose workable hothouse area is less than 40 dunams will be able to receive the abovementioned conditions when the Administration purchases for him land of an area exceeding the size of the his workable land in the Gaza Strip, up to a maximum of 40 developed dunams, at a price of $1,500 per dunam and the farmer will pay the value of the purchase. For this article, national preference “A” areas, in accordance with the Encouragement of Capital Investments in Agriculture Law, will be expanded so as to include areas south of the Nitzan-Kiryat Malachi line.

Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz will determine rules which will assure that lands are worked by the farmers and that will prevent the transfer of rights, and rental, to others. The Administration Council Chairman will submit to the Council rules for the allocation of land as outlined above. The Water Commissioner will allocate water quotas for the re-establishment of farms as per the foregoing.  This decision is subject to approval by Attorney-General Meni Mazuz.

7. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on his first visit to Mauritania, in the context of his efforts to expand and cultivate Israel’s relations with the Arab world. Now that Egypt and Jordan have returned their ambassadors to Israel, Israel is holding talks with Mauritania on expanding and strengthening bilateral relations. The Foreign Minister said that the connection between Israel and Mauritania proves that an Islamic country can establish a good relationship with Israel and with the Arab world at the same time.

Foreign Minister Shalom presented senior Mauritanian government officials with his roadmap for the Arab world; in the framework of increasing cooperation and the strengthening of ties with Mauritania, Israel will be able render assistance in all areas in which it has expertise, such as agriculture and water. Another area of cooperation is the war against terrorism, in which Israel and Mauritania are on the same side.

Foreign Minister Shalom noted that he also visited the Israeli hospital in Nouakchott – a project of over $1,000,000, which included building the structure, supplying equipment and training employees. So far, Israel has trained over 60 Mauritanians in various courses in Israel.

Foreign Minister Shalom invited Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya and Mauritanian Foreign Minister Mohammad Vall Ould Bellal to visit Israel.