(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 11 December 2005:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks: "On behalf of the entire Government, I would like to congratulate Nobel laureate Prof. Robert J. (Yisrael) Aumann. I think that everyone who watched the ceremony yesterday was very moved.  Prof. Aumann has brought great pride to the State of Israel and the Jewish People and we thank him and are proud of him.  I am certain that this will not be the last time that we will be congratulating an Israeli for winning a Nobel Prize."

2. The Cabinet approved certain amendments to the penal code.

3. The Cabinet approved the draft 2005 Agricultural Produce Council Law (Production and Marketing).

4. The Cabinet, pursuant to its authority under the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), approved the appointment of Jackie Matza as Director of the Israel Tax Authority, in place of Eitan Roub, effective 1 January 2006.

5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of transportation safety and appointed an interministerial committee chaired by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ilan Cohen, with the participation of the directors-general of the Transportation and Interior ministries, the Interior Ministry Planning Authority Director and the Finance Ministry Budget Director to formulate – within 30 days – a detailed plan to advance transportation safety projects.

6. The Cabinet approved a multi-year (2006-2010), NIS 19 billion plan for the planning, development, maintenance, safety and traffic control of Israel’s inter-city highways.

7. The Cabinet discussed financing for the plan for improvement of, construction at and visits to the Western Wall plaza and decided as follows:

A. The State of Israel views the Western Wall as a national asset of the highest order; therefore, the Government will work to strengthen it in the framework of a five-year plan and in the context of developing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

B. NIS 68 million will, therefore, in keeping with the 2006-2010 five-year plan, be budgeted in order to finance improvements of, construction at and visits to the Western Wall plaza as follows:

i. The Defense Ministry will allocate NIS 10 million (NIS 2 million per annum, for 2006-2010; 100% from the Defense Ministry budget) for soldiers’ visits – including guides – to the Western Wall.

ii. The Education, Culture and Sports Ministry will allocate NIS 10 million (NIS 2 million per annum, for 2006-2010; 75% from the Education, Culture and Sports Ministry budget and 25% from the Finance Ministry budget) for students’ visits – including guides and archaeological work – to the Western Wall.

iii. The Construction and Housing Ministry will allocate NIS 10 million (NIS 2 million per annum for 2006-2010; 75% from the Construction and Housing Ministry budget and 25% from the Finance Ministry budget) for the construction of a Western Wall heritage center, an information center, the Western Wall tunnels and visitors’ parking and traffic improvements.

iv. The Tourism Ministry will allocate NIS 10 million (NIS 2 million per annum for 2006-2010; 75% from the (NIS 2 million per annum for 2006-2010; 75% from the Tourism Ministry budget and 25% from the Finance Ministry budget) for the marketing and encouragement of domestic and foreign tourism at the Western Wall, the construction of a Western Wall heritage center, an information center, the Western Wall tunnels and visitors’ parking and traffic improvements.

v. The Interior Ministry will allocate NIS 8 million (NIS 1.6 million per annum for 2006-2010; 68.75% from the Interior Ministry budget and 31.25% from the Finance Ministry budget) for the construction of a Western Wall heritage center, an information center, the Western Wall tunnels and visitors’ parking and traffic improvements.

vi. The Transportation Ministry will allocate NIS 8 million (NIS 1.6 million per annum for 2006-2010; 68.75% from the Transportation Ministry budget and 31.25% from the Finance Ministry budget) for the construction of a Western Wall heritage center, an information center, the Western Wall tunnels and visitors’ parking and traffic improvements.

vii. The Public Security Ministry will allocate NIS 4 million (NIS 1 million per annum for 2006-2010; 50% from the Public Security Ministry budget and 50% from the Finance Ministry budget) for the establishment of a police station at the Western Wall and appropriate security preparations.

viii. The Israel Land Administration will allocate NIS 8 million (NIS 1.6 million per annum for 2006-2010; 100% from the ILA budget) for the construction of a Western Wall heritage center, an information center, the Western Wall tunnels and visitors’ parking and traffic improvements.

ix. The Finance Ministry will carry out its budgetary obligations as per the foregoing.

C. Each ministry’s financial obligations as per the foregoing will appear in its annual budgets.

D. The PMO will transfer each ministry’s budgetary allotment to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which will be responsible for the implementation of the five-year plan.

E. The various ministries will transfer any end-of-year budgetary surpluses vis-à-vis their aforementioned obligations to their budget for the following year.

F. The PMO will monitor implementation of the plan.

The Western Wall is of national, historical, cultural and religious importance to the Jewish People.  Implementation of the aforesaid plan will enable approximately four million people to visit the Western Wall per annum.

8. The Cabinet further discussed the rehabilitation of the Lod Municipality and the unification of several area teachers’ training colleges.

9. The Cabinet decided to adopt the recommendations of the directors-general committee regarding the placing of cellular telephone antennas.

10. The Cabinet discussed the issue of the rights of farmers regarding residential lots in their communities.