(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 25 June 2006:

1.  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert referred to the security events that have occurred today (Sunday), 25 June 2006, beginning in the early hours of the morning in the Kerem Shalom-Sufa area. He said that this was a very serious act of Hamas terrorism and added that the IDF has taken casualties. Several terrorists among those who initiated the attack have also been hit. The State of Israel views the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Chairman Abu Mazen and the Palestinian government as responsible for this event – with all this implies.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz and the Deputy Director of the Israel Security Agency briefed ministers on this morning’s events.

2. Pursuant to the 2003 Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law (Temporary Provision), the Cabinet decided to extend the law for six months from 17 July 2006. The Cabinet also decided to submit the foregoing for Knesset approval.

The law, which entered into force in August 2003, deals with people who are in Israel illegally and family unification policy regarding residents of the PA and foreign nationals of Palestinian origin.

The law was legislated against the background of the security reality since the outbreak of armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinians which has seen the increasing involvement of Palestinians who have exploited their status in Israel, which they acquired as a result of family unification procedures with Israeli citizens, in terrorist activities, including aiding and abetting suicide terrorists.

The Israeli ID cards given to former residents of the region enabled them to move freely between the PA areas and Israel and turned them into a preferred population group for terrorist organizations vis-à-vis the perpetrating of hostile acts in general, and on Israeli territory in particular.

On 1 August 2005, the Law was amended so as to expand the exceptions that enable the granting of permits to be in Israel to population groups with a reduced security risk. Thus, the authority was given for approving permit requests by residents of the area who are the spouses of Israeli citizens, who are over 35 (men) and 25 (women), respectively. Authority was also granted to approve requests by minors in order to prevent their being separated from their parents. It was also determined even in these exceptional cases, permits would not be issued to residents of the area (or their family members) whom either the Interior Minister or the regional commander – on the basis of security assessments – believe are liable to constitute a risk to the security of the state.

According to security assessments, there has been no change in the aforementioned security reality. However, in light of Supreme Court judges’ comments about the complexity of the law and the difficulties entailed in extending it for a prolonged period, it was decided to extend it for six months only. The Interior and Justice ministries are currently engaged in comprehensive staff work regarding the preparation of legislation that will determine procedures for granting status in Israel to foreign nationals, mainly the foreign spouses of Israeli citizens.

3. The Cabinet approved certain directives regarding the participation of soldiers in various education, health and civilian security frameworks, and to submit them for approval by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

4. The Cabinet, in keeping with its previous decisions, approved Health Minister Yaacov Ben Yizri’s recommendation, to which Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson concurs, to include various medicines in the health services basket as of 1 July 2006.

5. Pursuant to the 1998 Law on the Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women, the Cabinet appointed Marit Danon to replace Yehudit Plotkin as Director of the Authority, effective 1 July 2006.

6. The Cabinet approved Environment Minister Gideon Ezra’s proposal to change the name of his ministry to the "Ministry for Environmental Protection".

7. The Cabinet appointed Construction and Housing Ministry Director-General Aryeh Bar as a Government representative to the Israel Lands Administration Council.

8. Prime Minister Olmert announced that he has decided to establish a committee on the rules of ethics for ministers. He said that even before the recent elections he thought that it would be desirable to formulate rules of ethics for ministers and the bodies and organizations under their responsibility. The Prime Minister said that he has asked former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar to chair the committee and added that the latter has agreed. Professors Asa Kasher and Gavriela Shalev will also participate on the committee. The committee will also recommend on how to provide for the legal anchoring of its conclusions, which it will submit to the Cabinet for approval.