(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 17 July 2005:

1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and ISA Director Yuval Diskin briefed ministers on the security situation in wake of the recent upsurge in Palestinian terrorism. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: “Last week, I instructed the security establishment to take all measures, without restrictions, in order to stop the wave of terrorism and to strike at the terrorist organizations and the terrorists. This activity is ongoing and, to my regret, terrorist actions are continuing.

I met this morning with senior security establishment officials and I reiterated my instructions that there is no restriction on our activities to halt the attacks at communities both inside and outside the Gaza Strip. They described the precise situation and the steps being taken.  We do not – in any way – intend to allow this situation. We are greatly interested in reaching a diplomatic settlement but it is totally clear that this is impossible while such terrorism runs amok along our borders.”

Defense Minister Mofaz briefed ministers on security events of the past week since the Islamic Jihad terrorist attack in Netanya. He said that there has been an escalation in terrorist attacks that has expressed itself in the unceasing mortar and Kassam attacks at our communities. He estimated that Islamic Jihad has made a strategic decision to make every effort to attack the Disengagement Plan and added that action by Islamic Jihad has dragged Hamas into joining the escalation. While the security establishment has taken a series of measures, we do see the first indications of Palestinian activity on the ground with the Palestinian Authority (PA) deploying its forces against Hamas; however, the PA still lacks the determination to take action against the terrorist organizations.

The Defense Minister said that the security establishment has made a series of decisions regarding policy against suicide-terrorists. He also discussed the deployment of IDF forces ahead of a possible ground action against the increased firing of Kassam rockets. He emphasized that it must be clear that if the PA does not take control of the situation in the coming days, Israel will be unable to countenance the reality that has been created on the ground and will have to take more complex and vigorous action in the Gaza Strip and wherever necessary against Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Defense Minister Mofaz referred to the great burden being placed on the security forces – the IDF, the Israel Police and the ISA – regarding marches, protests and other actions against the Disengagement Plan.

ISA Director Dichter and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Halutz discussed the security situation in the PA and the Gaza Strip in light of both the internal relations there and Israel’s determination to implement the Disengagement Plan.

Prime Minister Sharon summarized the discussion as follows:

a. The current reality of unceasing terrorist attacks cannot, and will not, continue.
b. There are no restrictions on the IDF and the security forces regarding counter-terrorist action.
c. We will consider our responses and are not ruling anything out.
d. The security establishment must receive full support. The Government stands behind the IDF, the Israel Police and the ISA and appreciates their activities.
e. Demonstrators must be prevented from entering Gush Katif.
f. The IDF and the Israel Police must be removed from political debate.  We view refusal as very grave and will act against refusers with utmost severity. The IDF and the Israel Police will have missions after the disengagement as well.

2. The Cabinet discussed the multi-year plan against road accidents presented by the Sheinan Committee, which was appointed by Transportation Minister Meir Shetrit in order to reduce the number of those killed and injured in traffic accidents, reduce direct damages from road accidents and determine the Government’s commitment to road safety as a national goal.

The Cabinet approved Transportation Minister Shetrit’s draft decision based on the Sheinan Committee recommendations and noted the following comments by Prime Minister Sharon: “For the first time in many years, there was comprehensive staff work on the issue of road accidents, including study of other countries’ experiences. I accept the principles of the Sheinan report; they must be implemented at once. An inter-ministerial team will examine the Sheinan report recommendations and how to implement them in order to implement the report this year. Minister Shetrit will brief the Cabinet on the implementation of the report. The necessary budgetary resources will be invested in implementing the report. An interministerial team has been working for several months on the issue of infrastructure and is due to issue its multi-year budgetary recommendations before the formulation of the 2006 budget. This includes a NIS 400 million per annum investment in road safety. While increasing compulsory insurance premiums is an unusual step, earmarked resources must be allocated to the war on road accidents in regard to enforcement and education and I insist on this. The Cabinet will monitor expenditures and if the number of accidents is reduced, the public will benefit from lower premiums. Regarding police personnel, instructions have already been issued regarding the transfer of IDF recruits to the Israel Police."

3. The Cabinet approved the requisite legislative amendments to provide for the division of responsibility between the IDF and the Israel Police, and the Ministries of Defense, Public Security and the Environment, regarding various issues related to large-scale disasters, including exercises.

4. The Cabinet authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the draft 2005 Second Authority for Television and Radio Law regarding various issues related to the license for broadcasts on the third channel (“Channel 10”).