(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 27 November 2005:

1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevy (Farkash) and the Deputy Director of the ISA briefed ministers on current security matters regarding events in the north as well as the Syrian and Iranian issues insofar as they are linked to Hizbullah and what is taking place in Lebanon. They discussed the scope and number of recent terrorist attacks and terrorist attack warnings, the Rafah and Erez crossings and the struggle against Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hizbullah.

Defense Minister Mofaz said that Hizbullah’s kidnapping attempt – which was accompanied by a rocket barrage at border communities and outposts – was at the center of recent events on the northern border. He said that the IDF deserved praise for its deployment to foil terrorist attacks and the kidnapping of soldiers on the northern border. The IDF responded by attacking Hizbullah targets, both with combat aircraft and artillery. The Defense Minister said that Hizbullah had failed both tactically and strategically.

Regarding Judea and Samaria, Defense Minister Mofaz arrests and counter-terrorist operations are continuing, mainly against Islamic Jihad infrastructures; pinpoint counter-terrorist activity is currently being focused on “ticking bombs.”

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Hizbullah has repeatedly tried to kidnap and attack both soldiers and civilians. He said that such attempts must be paid careful attention and added that there must be complete readiness and alertness in order to foil Hizbullah’s intentions. He commended the action of IDF commanders and soldiers regarding the foregoing and sent a letter to this effect to GOC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam.

2. The Cabinet discussed and approved the partial master plan for the Nitzanim area and northern Ashkelon, pursuant to its authority under the 1965 Planning and Construction Law.

The goal of the plan is to establish residential communities as part of the overall solutions proposed to the residents of the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in the framework of the Disengagement Plan, while maintaining and fostering the open spaces between Ashdod and Ashkelon via their statutory preservation, by assuring the reciprocal relationship between the new communities and the unique local environment, and by the urban development of Ashkelon.

The plan details two residential communities, including housing solutions and public services for the target population. The plan also provides for – inter alia – the expansion of the community of Nitzan, a commercial and service area, an interchange, parks and beaches, an electricity substation, an area for urban development, open space, etc.  In addition to the designation of nature reserves, the plan defines the remaining areas up to Highway #4 as a scenic agricultural area in order to assure the quality and continuity of the open areas under the plan.

3. The Cabinet discussed and approved the national integrated master plan for construction, development and preservation, pursuant to its authority under the 1965 Planning and Construction Law.

4. The Cabinet discussed a request to allow the Public Security Ministry to accept contributions in order to establish a crime-reduction unit regarding theft, and pursuant to its authority under the 1959 Civil Service Law (Political Party and Fundraising Classification) to allow the Public Security Ministry to receive contributions from the insurance companies’ association and the rental car companies association in order to provide 40% of the financing for establishing and operating an Israel Police unit to combat vehicle theft.

5. The Cabinet approved the appointment of Asher Yarden as Consul-General in Houston, Texas (US).

6. The Cabinet began a discussion of security at educational institutions and decided that security work at educational institutions and on public transportation will be defined as preferred employment pursuant to the National Insurance Law. The Cabinet will continue the discussion at its next meeting.

7. The Cabinet approved a draft agricultural produce marketing law and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to prepare a final draft and submit it to the Knesset.

8. The Cabinet discussed government companies’ absorption of employees from among Gush Katif and northern Samaria evacuees and decided as follows:

A. Companies bound by the 1975 Government Companies Law that need new employees shall also apply to the Center for Employment Training and Advice for Gaza Strip and northern Samaria evacuees, which is operated by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment, or whoever shall be determined by the Industry, Trade and Employment Minister, so that the Center may suggest to the company an employment candidate from among the aforementioned evacuees.

B. The Center will have the same timeframe for referring employment candidates that the company gives to other bodies.

C. In considering such candidates, the companies will take into account the unique employment and other circumstances of the evacuees that may make it difficult for them to find alternative employment.

D. Employment candidates from among the evacuees will be given preference provided that they have similar qualifications to other candidates.

E. The Director of the Government Companies Authority shall receive monthly updates from Government companies on the following subjects:
i) The number of open positions,
ii) The number of new employees absorbed by the company,
iii) The number of new employees absorbed from among the evacuees.
The Director will pass these updates onto the relevant ministers.

F. This decision is valid until 31 December 2006.

This decision does not interfere in determining which positions are to be filled by employees from among the evacuees. By taking into account natural turnover among Government company employees and by leaving considerations in the hands of the companies, such infringement of the companies’ business considerations as may exist is minimized and a balance is found between this minimal infringement on the one hand and the broad public interest on behalf of which the Government has enacted this decision on the other.

This decision shall not apply to those companies that are operating according to recovery plans that bar them from hiring new employees.

9.  The name of the Office of the Vice Premier is changed to the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry.

Pursuant to Article 25A of Basic Law: The Government MK Ruhama Avraham is appointed Deputy Minister in the Interior Ministry; the Knesset will be duly notified of MK Avraham’s appointment.