(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 25 September 2005:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks at the start of the meeting:

“Following the attack of Kassam rocket fire against western Negev communities, especially the city of Sderot, I convened the Cabinet last night in order to both discuss the issue and to urgently determine that the firing from the Gaza Strip towards the western Negev communities must be stopped by any means. I instructed that there are no restrictions on the use of any measures in order to strike at the terrorists, their equipment and where they find shelter. The instructions are unequivocal; we do not mean a one-time action here. Like we saw yesterday, and this was also yesterday’s decision, we intend to act continuously in order to strike at the terrorists and we will not spare the appropriate measures for this, apart from our regular objective of not hitting civilians. This phenomenon must be stopped; it cannot continue under any circumstances.

The security establishment presented a series of steps that it is taking and will take in order to stop the severe phenomenon. This is not a short-term action but a policy that must lead to the cessation of the terrorist organizations’ actions against Israeli communities. I am certain that it is within our ability to halt the terrorist organizations’ actions against us. The activity will not only be in Gaza but will also be against terrorism in Judea and Samaria. Activity will also continue there; neither are there any restrictions there.”

2. Prime Minister Sharon also made the following remarks: “My Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, is leaving us after three difficult years and has been appointed GOC Southern Command. Of course, we will continue to meet with you because there are also difficult problems there. I would like to thank you for this difficult period; it was certainly not easy. You helped greatly and I want to thank you and wish you well. Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni has been appointed as my new Military Secretary. I am certain that he will succeed; I wish you well.”

3. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky and the Deputy Director of the ISA briefed ministers on current security matters.

Defense Minister Mofaz referred to the seriousness of recent security events and emphasized the need to use an effective deterrent policy immediately, including aggressive combat against Hamas and Islamic Jihad, in order to fashion a new reality and determine new rules of the game. He stressed Hamas’ repeated attempts to blame Israel for last Friday’s explosion at a Hamas rally in Jebalya in order to dissemble and cover up its own exclusive responsibility for the killing of Palestinian civilians. He made it clear that he has ordered the continuation of very strong responsive actions. He detailed the main points of the security establishment’s assertive policy as presented last night to the security Cabinet.

4. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer submitted his appeal against the decision of the Ministerial Committee on Social and Economic Affairs that authorized the Finance Ministry Accountant-General to oversee the agreement-in-principle between the Government and the National Oil Refineries Corp. and the Israel Corp. The Minister also tabled a proposed amendment to the decision regarding recommendations on the structure of the oil refining industry in Israel.

Following a discussion, the Cabinet decided to reject the aforementioned appeal.

5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of legal defense for those who hold state and security establishment positions against whom judicial proceedings have been opened in foreign countries regarding their actions in the framework of lawfully fulfilling their responsibilities on behalf of the State of Israel. The Cabinet approved Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s proposal:

a) The State of Israel will provide legal protection – either by rendering legal services or by reimbursing for legal expenses – to those who hold positions and responsibilities on behalf of the Israeli government, including civil servants and security establishment employees, and those who have retired and/or resigned their positions, against whom judicial proceedings have been opened in foreign countries regarding their actions in the framework of lawfully fulfilling their responsibilities on behalf of the State of Israel.

b) The Ministerial Committee on Legislation shall determine the details and conditions of providing such aforementioned legal assistance or reimbursement, in keeping with the relevant details set forth in the Cabinet ’s 28 November 2002 decision.

c) The Finance Ministry will budget the necessary expenses for implementing this decision regarding both immediate and future needs, as will be agreed upon between the finance, justice and defense ministers.

Justice Minister Livni made the following remarks: “Those who hold Government offices, civil servants and security establishment employees are liable to find themselves exposed to criminal proceedings for actions they carried out as part of their legal and authorized duties on behalf of the State of Israel. Both in the past and more recently, we have witnessed the phenomenon in which organizations and private individuals, including Israelis and Jews, have slandered and libeled the State of Israel and its citizens via judicial proceedings in foreign countries. Moreover, there are residents of the state who are collecting information and data against their fellow countrymen in the IDF and other security forces, information which is liable to endanger lives and serve as weapons in the hands of various interested parties and international tribunals that are not concerned with the welfare of the State of Israel.

The State of Israel acts on the basis of Jewish and Israeli moral values and integrity, according to law and the directives of the Attorney-General, and under the judicial oversight of the Supreme Court. To this end, those holding Government offices, civil servants and security service employees act on behalf of the state according to the highest principles. In light of the foregoing, it has become necessary for the State of Israel to provide legal protection – either by rendering legal services or by reimbursing for legal expenses – to those holding Government offices, civil servants and security service employees, including those who have retired and/or resigned their positions, against whom judicial proceedings have been opened in foreign countries regarding their actions in the framework of lawfully fulfilling their responsibilities on behalf of the State of Israel. The Cabinet has a moral and ethical duty to provide this legal defense.”

6. The Cabinet decided to direct Justice Minister Livni to immediately distribute the memorandum on the law on compensation regarding national conflicts. The Cabinet also authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the draft and submit it to the Knesset upon the opening of its winter session.

In recent years, there have been incidents in which Arab residents and/or citizens of the State of Israel have been victims of terrorist attacks that were perpetrated on a nationalist basis, and who were legally ineligible for compensation from the State since the existing law authorizes compensation only for those who were victims of terrorist actions perpetrated by a regular military or an organization or individuals who were hostile to the State of Israel. Against this legal background, the previous Attorney-General decided to establish an interministerial committee to deal with claims by those who were injured, in body or in property, in events with a nationalist background and who are ineligible for compensation under the 1970 hostile acts compensation law.” However, this compensation was provided as a one-time sum and does not confer the status of a victim of terrorism.

Following the 4 August 2005 attack in Shfaram in which four citizens were murdered by a Jewish man, Prime Minister Sharon, at the 4 September 2005 Cabinet meeting, mentioned the need for legislation on this issue and issued instructions that the necessary legislative amendments – in order to enable those murdered by Jewish terrorists to be recognized as victims of terrorism – be prepared forthwith.

In order to provide for equality in this area for all residents and citizens of the State of Israel, it has been proposed that all those who are injured, in body or in property, in the context of a nationalist conflict in the State of Israel, be they Jewish or Arab, be eligible for compensation. Thus, the aforementioned memorandum has been prepared.

7. The Cabinet, acting in accordance with its authority under article 4D of the 1982 Bezeq Law, approved several changes in the 1997 Bezeq regulations.