(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 30 Oct. 2005):

1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, ISA Director Yuval Diskin and the IDF Intelligence Corps Director of Research briefed the cabinet on security matters.

Defense Minister Mofaz discussed the escalation in terrorist actions in both the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria over the past two weeks and said that the escalation attests to the Palestinian Authority’s inability to implement – and inaction in implementing – its obligations and responsibilities in the aforementioned areas.

Minister Mofaz said that in the absence of Palestinian counterterrorism efforts, the terrorist organizations are continuing to perpetrate attacks against Israel and its citizens. Following recent attacks and recent attack warnings, he  instructed the security forces to significantly boost their presence along roads, carry out arrests and monitor traffic by – inter alia – operating checkpoints and closures.

Mofaz said that counterterrorist operations in Judea and Samaria are continuing, especially in northern Samaria and against terrorist infrastructures. Alongside this, the security establishment is making an effort to avoid harming the general population and is allowing the fabric of Palestinian daily life to be maintained.

Mofaz said that the security establishment would continue to carry out arrests in Judea and Samaria and tighten checks at crossings in cooperation with the Israel Police, and step up activity in those areas in which construction of the security fence (http://tinyurl.com/4tbr9 and http://tinyurl.com/czaco) has yet to be completed.

Mofaz discussed activities by the Islamic Jihad command center in Damascus, which is instructing the terrorists in their actions.

Mofaz referred to violence by Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. He said that instances of violence by residents of Judea and Samaria, especially the “hilltop youth” delinquents, toward IDF officers and security establishment personnel. Last Thursday, the violence peaked when the deputy commander of the Samaria Brigade and his personnel were assaulted by dozens of youths in the context of an operation to evacuate five illegal outposts in Samaria. Last Friday, the defense minister met with several leaders of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip and made clear to them the severity with which he views the phenomenon and the dangerous potential of such events. He called on the cabinet to strongly condemn this dangerous and shameful phenomenon, and called on law enforcement authorities to both bring the assailants to justice and stiffen the legal penalties and thus make it unequivocally clear that the State of Israel will not countenance a situation in which citizens assault their defenders. This is criminal and criminals will not be drafted into the IDF.

Defense Minister Mofaz discussed his visits to Egypt and the UK, including his meetings with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, and with UK Defense Secretary John Reid and his advisers.

Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra also referred to the thuggish acts perpetrated by residents of Judea and Samaria against both Jews and Arabs.

2. Vice Premier Shimon Peres made the following remarks regarding the thuggish acts perpetrated by residents of Judea and Samaria against IDF soldiers and commanders:

“I would like to say, without exaggeration, that were it not for the relationship between the people and the IDF, the State of Israel would not exist. The IDF not only faces the enemy but also unites the nation. In my opinion, we will be unable to exist if we do not understand the severity of the situation. The soldiers defend the settlers; without this, there would be neither settlements nor settlers. In every democratic country, there is an undemocratic organization – the military. It is not a union and its dynamic is not that of employer and employee. It is an undemocratic organization without which it would be impossible to defend democracy. There must be one organization that is outside and above, and receives orders from the political leadership; but it operates with a disciplined hierarchy. For years, we have seen to it that the IDF would be acceptable to all of us. The soldiers risk their lives. They work very hard in the settlements as well, day and night, and I know that they are making a great effort to take into account the humanitarian needs of others.

"Those sitting at this table must unite around the IDF and reject this shameful disgrace. We cannot allow an IDF officer to show a black eye to the world. Also, Yigal Amir’s mother said: ‘Those who were in favor of the disengagement should be hung in the streets. What rubbish! Who is she?

"And who are the hilltop youth? And rabbis give orders to the army? Who appointed them? On this issue, we must be the most blunt, determined, united and serious as we can be. There will be no concessions here and no looking the other way. This is vital not only for the IDF but for the existence of the state.

"I propose that the cabinet make its united voice heard and I support what the defense minister said, that those who rioted must not be drafted into the IDF. This is also the opinion of the chief of General Staff and I think that it is the correct decision. I also contacted Attorney-General Meni Mazuz to see whether the current laws are sufficient. If not, they must be amended. I also think that the Israel Broadcasting Authority need not give a public platform to every idiocy and bit of verbiage; there is no obligation to give the right to speak to a violent criminal who murdered the prime minister. There can be no concessions on this matter because we are speaking about the heart of the nation. Israel does not yet enjoy full security and full peace; luckily, we have the IDF that unifies the nation and repels the enemy. Such things must be strongly and clearly asserted. The Israel Broadcasting Authority must be told that it need not broadcast everything. Therefore, Mr. Prime Minister, I propose that the cabinet make its voice unequivocally clear.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that he accepts the Vice Premier’s remarks and emphasized that he sees no reason why such remarks should not be made in the strongest possible manner.

3. The cabinet discussed the proposal of Health Minister Danny Naveh and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Yisrael Katz regarding preparations for the possibility of an outbreak of pandemic bird flu. The cabinet determined that the possible damage of such a pandemic to the economy could be considerable and instructed the Defense Ministry to appoint an official who will be responsible for the requisite preparations. The cabinet decided that the procurement targets vis-a-vis medicines to fight the disease must be in accordance with World Health Organization recommendations and appointed an interministerial team to make the necessary procurement recommendations within seven days and submit them to the cabinet at its next meeting.

4. The cabinet discussed and approved the Dinor Committee’s recommendations regarding public broadcasting reform.

5. The cabinet discussed the issue of unifying the governing bodies of the various commercial radio and television authorities.

6. The cabinet approved amendments to the 2003-2005 Israel Economic Recovery Plan Law and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to formulate the final wording of the draft law and submit it to the Knesset.

7. The cabinet approved Communications Minister Dalia Itzik’s recommendations and decided to approve the appointment of Yifat Ben-Hai and Yossi Tzemach as members of the Second Television and Radio Authority Council as of 15 August 2005.

8. The cabinet decided to transfer discussion of the national road safety authority bill to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation for final wording ahead of the next cabinet meeting.

9. The cabinet accepted Industry and Trade Minister Ehud Olmert’s recommendation and decided to appoint Ronit Ken as director of the Antitrust Authority as of 3 November 2005.

10. The cabinet decided – in accordance with its authority under the Basic Law: The Government as follows:

*Minister Ehud Olmert will serve as finance minister and will no longer serve as Industry and Trade minister;

* Minister Matan Vilnai will serve as Science and Technology minister;

* Minister Tzipi Livni will no longer serve as Immigration Absorption minister;

* MK Ronni Bar-On will serve as Industry and Trade minister;

* MK Zeev Boim will serve as Immigration Absorption minister;

* Minister Boim will also be in charge of liaison between the cabinet and the Knesset, in place of Minister Tzahi Hanegbi;

* The Industry and Trade minister’s responsibilities according to the 1960 Israel Lands Administration Law wil be transferred to Tourism Minister Avraham Hirchson;

* Responsibility for the Israel Lands Administration will be transferred from the Industry and Trade Ministry to the Tourism Ministry;

* MKs Zeev Boim and Yaacov Edri will no longer serve as deputy Defense minister and deputy Internal Security minister, respectively;

* MKs Eli Aflalo and Marina Solodkin will no longer serve as deputy minister in the Industry and Trade Ministry and as deputy minister in the Immigration Absorption Ministry, respectively;

* Justice Minister Tzipi Livni will replace Minister Ehud Olmert as the minister responsible according to the 1965 Israel Broadcasting Authority Law.

All of the foregoing will be submitted to the Knesset as required by law.

11. The cabinet appointed Minister Tzahi Hanegbi to be responsible for monitoring progress on implementing the “Jerusalem Envelope” plans and on the concomitant treatment of Jerusalem area residents who will be affected as a result of the security fence.