(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 19 June 2005:

1. Prime Minister Sharon made the following remarks:

“I have just met with US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice, who has arrived with a group of her aides. I think that this was a very good and very friendly meeting. I found that the US’s avowed policy regarding Israel is valid and cogent. I did not find any change in the American position. I think that these visits are important and that they strengthen the network of bilateral relations. 

There is no doubt that the US is investing effort in moving the diplomatic process forward and it certainly recognizes the problems and difficulties, as well as our position that the disengagement will be carried out according to the timetable and the Government and Knesset decisions. Moreover, our position – that the continuation of the process and the transition to the Roadmap is conditional on the complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement, the dismantling of the terrorist organizations and the collection of their weapons, and the implementation of the reforms to which the Palestinian Authority has committed itself – is abundantly clear. Our position is clear, unchanging and well known; in my opinion, this visit certainly strengthens the recognition of our position also among the Palestinians, the western world and other countries. 

I think that this visit was important and successful and that these visits contribute to both the advancement of the diplomatic process and to the strengthening of the network of bilateral relations.”

2. The Cabinet discussed a report by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ilan Cohen on the implementation of its decision regarding the school lunch program, which it decided to establish within the education system for pre-school and primary students in educational institutions in those communities with a long school day. The program is operated by the Education Ministry and a private foundation. The number of students benefiting from the program, including at boarding schools, as of now in 2005, is 141,672. Forty-four communities are participating in the program at a cost of approximately NIS 60 million so far this year. PMO Director-General Ilan Cohen said that satisfaction with the program is high and that there have been drops in both violence and truancy as a result. It was also reported that there is very strict quality control and full cooperation between the PMO, the Education Ministry, the Health Ministry and the aforementioned private foundation.

Prime Minister Sharon thanked all those involved in the program, including Eli Alaloff, the director of the private foundation, and PMO Director-General Cohen, and expressed the hope that this important project would continue because it is very important vis-a-vis the long school day. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of the project and its great positive influence on schools.

3. The Cabinet decided that Israel Lands Council Chairman Minister Ehud Olmert would be responsible for submitting to the Council, by 31 July 2005, the proposal for extending previous Council decisions until 31 December 2006. The aforesaid decisions were designed – inter alia – to strengthen communities in the Galilee and the north, to encourage people to settle in these communities and prevent negative migration, by offering additional discounts in national preference areas.

In light of the government’s policy to encourage settlement in these areas, the Cabinet decided to further extend the eligibility period for these discounts.

4. In August 2004, the Cabinet decided that Minister Olmert would submit to the Cabinet proposals on reforming various aspects of land planning, management and development. Last month, Minister Olmert appointed a committee chaired by Yaakov Gadish in regard to reforms in the Israel Lands Administration. The committee has finished its work and presented its conclusions.  The Cabinet has decided to adopt the principles of the Public Committee on Reforms in the Israel Lands Administration (the Gadish committee) and has directed the relevant ministries to work towards their implementation.

The Cabinet expresses its deepest regret over the recent passing of Yaakov Gadish and commended his manifold contributions to the Israeli economy, and thanks the Committee members for their dedicated work.

 5. The Cabinet approved amendments to the draft 2005 poultry industry law and to submit it to the Knesset forthwith.

6. The Cabinet decided to appoint Avshalom Danoch as Chairman of the “Meir Shefaya” Youth Village Company Board of Directors.

7. The Cabinet discussed the issue of security at educational institutions and on public transportation and decided to change some of its previous decisions on the matter. The Cabinet decided that the sections of its previous decisions that deal with security at educational institutions will specify that the extra officers and units that are employed in implementing the Israel Police plan will be employed, mainly but not exclusively, in providing security at educational institutions during school hours. Regarding public transportation, the Cabinet decided to change its previous decisions so as to specify that the police will use the resources, equipment and personnel that have been placed at its disposal for, mainly but not exclusively, providing security for public transportation. These forces will also be available to deal with special cases of crime and violence, as per need, in accordance with decisions by the Ministerial Committee on the Struggle Against Violence.

8. The Cabinet discussed the country’s preparations for a possible influenza pandemic and decided to make provision in the 2005 budget for the purchase of additional medicines. The Health and Finance Ministries will submit a proposal on the matter within two weeks.

9. The Cabinet decided to allocate an additional 60 days to the Ministerial Committee on the Unauthorized Outposts in order for it to formulate detailed draft decisions regarding the recommendations in the opinion on unauthorized outposts.

In March 2005, the Cabinet decided to establish a ministerial committee to formulate detailed draft decisions on the recommendations in the Sasson report on unauthorized outposts. The Committee has begun work and has held several meetings in which attorney Talia Sasson has outlined her recommendations in detail, including their various legal and professional aspects.

The Committee has also heard from Attorney-General Meni Mazuz and his representatives, from Civil Administration Legal Adviser and his representatives, from the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office and from various other Government officials. The relevant government ministries – especially the Construction and Housing Ministry and the Justice Ministry – have also held professional discussions related to the Committee’s work. The Committee has also contacted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz in order to receive data from the Defense Ministry official responsible for Government property and abandoned property at the Civil Administration. Government decisions regarding security legislation in Judea and Samaria are being evaluated, ahead of their implementation, by the security establishment in coordination with the Justice Ministry. Thus, it has been decided to provide additional time in which to complete preparation of the various legislative amendments.

10. The Cabinet, in accordance with Basic Law: The Presiden, decided to approve President Moshe Katsav’s visit to Spain at the invitation of King Juan Carlos.