(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday, October 9, 2005):

1. OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze’evi (Farkash) briefed ministers on issues regarding the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its chairman, and regarding relations both among the various organizations in the PA and between these organizations and the PA itself.  He also briefed ministers on issues regarding Syria, Lebanon, and Hizbullah, and regarding Iran and the global Islamic jihad.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on the natural disasters in the Far East and discussed Israeli assistance to the affected countries.

Interior Minister Ophir Pines-Paz asked Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about the expected meeting between him and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.  Prime Minister Sharon responded, clarifying matters.

2. The Prime Minister’s Office director of conversion affairs, Rabbi Haim Druckman, and his deputy, Rabbi Moshe Klein, briefed ministers on the activities of the unit for conversion affairs in the past year.  Rabbi Druckman said that all technical barriers regarding conversion had been removed and that the special rabbinical court judges had a very positive attitude.  A special study program has been prepared in close cooperation with the special rabbinical conversion courts.  The unit is also working with new immigrants – including IDF soldiers — from the former Soviet Union and elsewhere.

The cabinet decided that the special conversion courts would act in accordance with the rules and procedures – including those regarding appeals – determined by the chief rabbis; this is in keeping with a May 2005 decision by Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz regarding rabbinical court jurisdiction.

3. The cabinet – in keeping with previous decisions – decided to approve Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s proposal to appoint retired Magistrates Court judge Kay Blanche and Ms. Hadassah Rosenberg to the public committee regarding bequests to the state.  Their appointment is for three years.