(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 4.12.05:

1. Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra and other relevant officials briefed ministers on the phenomenon of youth violence and various legislative proposals for dealing with it. 

Minister Tzahi Hanegbi briefed ministers on the recent meeting in Washington of the Israel-US strategic dialogue, which he attended as the head of the Israeli delegation; the Israeli delegation also included Foreign Ministry Director-General Ron Prosor, Defense Ministry Director-General Yaacov Toren, National Security Council Chairman Danny Arditi, Israeli Ambassador to the US Danny Ayalon, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Diplomatic Adviser Shalom Turgeman and security forces representatives.  Minister Hanegbi said that the bilateral strategic dialogue was the product of an agreement from several years ago which set up a permanent forum on various issues important to both countries and which are defined as "strategic issues."  The dialogue included several open and informal meetings in which each team presented issues that were determined in advance.  Afterwards, detailed discussions were held on the various issues.  Israel presented the threat stemming from Iran’s efforts to arm itself with nuclear weapons as well as recent developments in Syria and Lebanon.  The Israeli team received the unequivocal impression that the US is determined to raise the Iranian issue for submission to the UN Security Council and has no intention of being drawn after Iranian delaying tactics.  Regarding Syria and Lebanon, it was important for the Israeli delegation to persuade the US that Lebanon must implement those articles of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 that have yet to be implemented, such as the deployment of the Lebanese army on Lebanon’s southern border instead of Hizbullah forces and the disbanding of armed militias including Hizbullah and the various Palestinian organizations.  Here as well, the Israeli delegation gained the impression that the Americans were aware of the issue. Minister Hanegbi emphasized that the resumption of the dialogue at the present time is especially significant given the current situation in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Sharon added: "This was very successful.  There was a resumption of the strategic dialogue with the US and a decision that it continue here in Israel at the beginning or middle of next year.  There has not been a strategic dialogue with the US for some time.  Undoubtedly, this was very successful and the reports that I have received from the US are full of praise for the way in which the strategic talks were conducted."

2. The Cabinet upgraded the authority of the committee of inquiry – appointed by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Ezra – into the Farignan brothers affair. 

3. The Cabinet, pursuant to its authority under the 1996 Electric Corporation Law, appointed Dan Weinstock to be responsible for overseeing the administration of the Electric Corporation Law.

4. The Cabinet, pursuant to its authority under the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), appointed Moshe Shion as Director-General of the Social Affairs Ministry until such time as a new Government is formed after the upcoming elections.

5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of security at educational institutions and the designation of security work at educational institutions and on public transportation as preferred employment as per the National Insurance Law. 

6. The Cabinet discussed the rehabilitation of the Ramat Hovav toxic waste site. 

7. The Cabinet discussed the plans for a railway line between Ashkelon and Beer Sheva that will eventually connect Ofakim, Netivot, Sderot, the Ashkelon Coast Regional Council, the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, the Sdot Negev Regional Council, the Merhavim Regional Council and the Bnei Shimon Regional Council to the national rail network via Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.  This line will promote the development of the entire region and strengthen its links to the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area. 

8. The Cabinet decided to approve the following budgets for earthquake
preparedness:

NIS 5 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry budget for five years, beginning with the 2006 budget year;

NIS 5 from the National Infrastructure Ministry budget for five years, beginning with the 2006 budget year.

The committee of directors-general is concluding its work and will present its recommendations to the Cabinet shortly.