(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 6 November 2005):
1. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on current diplomatic affairs. He discussed the UN decision regarding the Holocaust and Israel’s position at the UN and reminded ministers that last Monday, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) made a historic decision, by consensus, the first of its kind on remembering the holocaust. This unprecedented decision (http://tinyurl.com/7zbzj), which was initiated by Israel, constitutes a very significant step, both in the war on anti-Semitism and regarding the Holocaust, and in strengthening Israel’s international position. For the first time in the history of Israel, the UN adopted a decision initiated and advanced by Israel.
The decision calls on the countries of the world to include the issue of the Holocaust in their school curriculums and research programs, condemns all manifestations of Holocaust-denial and calls on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to establish a special UN program entitled, "The UN and the Holocaust," and report to the UNGA on the progress on this issue. $500,000 has already been budgeted for this program. Similarly, the UNGA also set January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp, as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The UN decision also commends those countries which are engaged in preserving the sites of concentration camps and extermination camps, and determines that the Holocaust, in which one-third of the Jewish people was annihilated, will constitute an eternal warning to the peoples of the world regarding the dangers of gratuitous hatred, racism, and bigotry.
Our current challenge is to translate the decision into active policy both for the UN and its member states, said Shalom. This successful operation combines with our efforts to improve Israel’s position at the UN. We are currently focusing on canceling the three anachronistic UN committees on the issue of Palestine, committees whose work is devoid of results apart from automatic criticism of Israel and which cost the UN $3 million per annum.
The improvement of our position in international organizations has also found expression regarding the issue of Magen David Adom (MDA) and the Red Cross (http://tinyurl.com/aahzz). Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey visited here last week in the framework of her round of visits to Middle Eastern countries. Early next month, Switzerland will apparently host a diplomatic conference that will enable MDA to be accepted into the International Committee of the Red Cross. This will constitute the end of a long and complex process to right an historic wrong that has continued for several generations, in which neither MDA nor its symbol have been recognized.
Foreign Minister Shalom said that the UN also serves as a forum for pressuring those countries that support terrorism. Following the submission of the Mehlis report, the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted resolution #1636 (http://tinyurl.com/csst8) against Syria. This decision opens the way to future sanctions. The decision outlines a roadmap for the Syrian regime in the coming weeks regarding the investigation into the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.
Last week, special UN envoy Terje Laarsen submitted to the UNSC his bi-annual report on the issue of Lebanon (http://tinyurl.com/avyjc). In the report, Laarsen discusses the issues of the disarming of armed organizations in Lebanon and the demarcation of the border so as to permit the UN to determine whether or not the Syrian presence in Lebanon continues. Laarsen also determined that Hizbullah activity against Israel under the rubric of "defending Lebanese soil" cannot be considered as legitimate.
Foreign Minister Shalom referred to the Iranian president’s recent remarks and noted that while the international community was making a decision by consensus regarding the remembrance of the Holocaust, the regime of the Ayatollahs in Tehran was continuing to prove how removed it is from the global consensus. The Iranian president’s remarks – made 10 days ago at a conference entitled "The World Without Zionism" – calling for Israel to be wiped off the map have met an unprecedented wave of global criticism, which underscores the unified international front that is being formed against the terrorist state of Iran. As a result of Israel’s prompt action, including the foreign minister’s talks with the UN Secy.-Gen., the UNSC unanimously condemned the Iranian President’s remarks (http://tinyurl.com/bymv8), and UN Secy.-Gen. Annan also issued a condemnation (http://tinyurl.com/byppb). Israel is now working to leverage the broad international revulsion over the Iranian president’s remarks into operative measures mainly regarding the nuclear issue.
Foreign Minister Shalom commented on the Hamas issue and the expected Palestinian Authority (PA) elections:
"Israel welcomes the democratization process in the Middle East. With this in mind, Israel must do everything in its power to enable an easy election process, with the understanding that proper conduct of elections is an important step in creating a stable regime. This is in Israel’s interest as well as in the PA’s and that of the rest of the world.
On the other hand, it is unreasonable to think, or demand, that Israel support the inclusion of terrorist organizations in these elections. Israel’s treatment of the terrorist organizations must remain exactly the same during the elections as it is today. There will be no easing of conditions which will allow terrorist organizations to cynically exploit the election process.
Hamas is an active terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and threatens both Israeli citizens and the existence of the PA alike. Running in the elections gives legitimacy to the organization, which aims to bring down the Palestinian Authority entirely. As an organization which denies any possibility of dialogue and a relationship between Israel and the Palestinians, it has no place in the future of the region.
Allowing Hamas to take part in the elections will neither weaken it nor strengthen Abu Mazen’s ability to deal with it. Any approval received now will only strengthen Hamas in the future. The Hizbullah precedent in Lebanon shows that incorporating the organization in the elections brought about neither its disarmament nor the cessation of its military actions; rather both its arsenal and its influence have increased. Moreover, any approval given to Hamas now will be that much harder to remove later."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said: "Israel’s position is that we cannot cooperate with elections in which Hamas, in its present state, plays a role. It is important to emphasize and understand that the fact that the elections are taking place does not prove that democracy will be established, and this is because there is no connection between elections in the Palestinian Authority and democracy.
There cannot be a situation where an armed organization, with a covenant full of hatred (http://tinyurl.com/9fzok), takes part in the elections."
2. The cabinet approved the draft 2005 National Road Safety Authority (NRSA) Law and determined it must be presented to the Knesset forthwith for its first reading. On 17.7.05, the cabinet adopted in principle the multi-year Sheinan Committee plan () on road safety. The aforementioned draft law will replace the 1997 law and change the NRSA to an independent corporation.
3. The cabinet approved the amended agreement between the government and the Israel Corporation regarding the oil refineries; see for details.
4. The cabinet held a further discussion on Israel’s preparedness for an outbreak of an avian flu pandemic and decided – in continuation of its decision at last week’s meeting – that the medicine procurement target for the struggle against the pandemic would stand at 25%. The Finance Ministry will allocate NIS 150 million to the Health Ministry’s 2005 budget so as to enable it to meet this target.
The Health Ministry will allocate approximately NIS 20 million from its budget to purchase medicines for 2006 and 2007; this is in addition to the NIS 20 million that has already been given to its 2006 budget.
The Finance Ministry will allocate an additional NIS 35 million to the Health Ministry to purchase medicines and NIS 10 million to purchase medical equipment and for other purposes related to dealing with the pandemic in 2006.
The Finance Ministry will allocate an additional NIS 35 million to the Health Ministry to purchase medicines and NIS 10 million to purchase medical equipment and for other purposes related to dealing with the pandemic in 2007.
The Finance Ministry will allocate NIS 500,000 in 2005 and NIS 6 million in 2006 to the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry to enable to prepare to deal with the pandemic.
The Defense Ministry National Emergency Board, the Health Ministry, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, and all other ministries will be prepared to meet their respective obligations and responsibilities should the World Health Organization declare a pandemic.