(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 18 June 2006:

1. Defense Minister Amir Peretz briefed ministers on current security events and said that Hamas immediately began an escalation following the tragic events of 9 June 2006 on the Gaza beach. He said that Hamas was acting openly and had fired approximately 100 rockets from 9 June 2006 until today (inclusive).

Defense Minister Peretz said that Israel had engaged in pinpoint action against the movement of rocket launchers in order to prevent the launchings. Israel had passed messages on to those responsible that no allowances would be made for any elements engaged in launching – or in directing the launch of – rockets against its communities. While this message had been received, the Defense Minister said that Israel would show neither patience nor forbearance towards those who continue to fire rockets at its territory.

Regarding the inquiry into the events of 9 June 2006 in which seven members of one Palestinian family were killed, Defense Minister Peretz said that he had personally checked the facts several times and added that this was a very credible inquiry that may certainly be relied upon and accepted.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he completely believed in the IDF inquiry and added that the Cabinet supported the IDF and Defense Minister Peretz. The Prime Minister said that such wars do not come with insurance certificates that guarantee that civilians will never be hit because the reality is more complex. Those who complain must ask themselves how many thousands of Kassam rockets have been fired and whom they are being fired at. He emphasized that no Israeli commander had ever ordered that civilians be shot at simply to kill civilians and that he has no reason to cast doubt on the Israeli security establishment inquiry. The Prime Minister reiterated that the Cabinet had full confidence in the way that this issue was handled.

2. Prime Minister Olmert briefed ministers on his encouraging meetings in Europe with – inter alia – British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac.

3. Vice Premier Shimon Peres briefed ministers on his visit to Kazakhstan for the Conference on Interactions and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

4. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed ministers on her meetings in Europe with – inter alia – her European Union counterparts and with Russian envoy Sergei Yakovlev.

5. The Cabinet decided – in continuation of its previous decisions regarding aid to Sderot and communities in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip – to approve the recommendations of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Ra’anan Dinur regarding upgrading the special aid plan for Sderot and the communities near the Gaza Strip as follows:

In light of continued terrorist activity directed against Sderot and the communities near the Gaza Strip, the Government will act to strengthen the residents of Sderot and of the communities near the Gaza Strip and their ability to deal with the special security conditions that have been created in the area. The communities included in this decision are those that were determined by the Cabinet in August and November 2004.

The aid will be given in the fields of education, culture, sport and
building reinforcement. Financial assistance will also be provided from Finance Ministry sources. The aid program will be spread over the years 2006-2008 and its goals are as follows – to strengthen the sense of personal security; to strengthen residents’ social resilience; to improve the quality-of-life and attractiveness of the area and its potential to draw new residents; and to help younger residents of the region to stay in the region.

Residents of Sderot and its environs have suffered for years from eunending terrorist activity, including the firing of rockets. There has been an escalation in recent weeks; 166 Kassam rockets and mortar rounds have been fired in May and June so far.

It was decided to immediately approve educational and cultural activities for all age brackets during the summer and the autumn holidays, and to establish a staff of directors-general to determine policy for reinforcing educational institutions. PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur will formulate a supplementary aid package within 30 days.

6. The Cabinet decided to update the health services basket.

7. The Cabinet decided to amend its 26 June 2005 decision
) regarding the children, parents and siblings of those people present in Israel illegally as follows:

The Interior Minister shall be entitled to grant permanent residency permits to children of people present in Israel illegally, who have struck roots in Israeli society and culture, in accordance with their request, and who meet all of the following conditions:

* The child is currently in Israel, was present here for at least six continuous years and entered Israel prior to the age of 14.

* The parents of the child initially entered Israel with proper visas and entry permits according to the 1952 Entry Into Israel Law, prior to the child’s date of birth or entry into Israel.

* The child speaks Hebrew.

* The child is currently in first grade or higher in an Israeli school or has finished his studies.

* In order to meet this arrangement, applicants will have to produce clear evidence to support their application including via a hearing and by producing documentation regarding place of residence in Israel, the date of entry into Israel or birth here, and place of study in Israel.

This decision is a one-time arrangement and does not alter Government policy.  To this end, applications for status by those who meet the foregoing criteria must be submitted to Interior Ministry Population Authority offices no later than 31 August 2006.

The foregoing will not apply to those who have a criminal or security impediment to receiving status in Israel.

8. The Cabinet discussed the development of water technology in Israel.

9. Pursuant to the 1954 Bank of Israel Law, the Cabinet appointed Prof. Zvi Esckstein as Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel.

10. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet appointed Mordechai Mordechai as Director-General of the Communications Ministry.