(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Wednesday), 4 October 2006:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wished ministers and their families, and all residents of Israel, a happy Sukkot holiday.

2. Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed ministers on developments and events in the Palestinian sphere, in the north and in regard to US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice’s visit to the region.

Defense Minister Peretz discussed the continuing threat of terrorist attacks against Israel, the continued firing of Kassam rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip and counter-terrorism operations by the IDF and the security forces. He also discussed the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon.

Foreign Minister Livni briefed ministers on the various efforts regarding the abductees issue and on the efforts to implement UN Security Council Resolution #1701, with emphasis on the considerations being formulated on the approval of another resolution regarding the placing of sanctions on weapons ships en route to Lebanon.  She said that there are preparations regarding the need to place sanctions on Iran but added that the need for consensus on this issue would restrict the nature and type of sanctions. The Foreign Minister added that a process of new regional understandings is being formulated in the wake of the fighting in Lebanon and the view that Iran constitutes a regional threat; she said that US Secy. of State Rice’s visit would focus on these issues.

Foreign Minister Livni said that it was clear to the Palestinians that diplomatic progress will be impossible as long as Gilad Shalit is not released. 

Foreign Minister Livni also discussed Israeli-Egyptian relations.

3. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the Cabinet decided to extend the tenure of Acting Water Commissioner David Yaruslavitz for an additional three-month period beginning 1 October 2006 or until a permanent Commissioner is appointed.

4. The Cabinet decided to transfer responsibility for mental health services from the state to the health funds, in accordance with the 1994 National Health Insurance Law.

5. The Cabinet amended the 1996 Goods and Services Price Supervision Law and cancelled the requirement regarding publication in the press – in accordance with the 2007 Economic Arrangements Law.

6. The Cabinet approved the completion of development and infrastructure work at Yad Binyamin and, to this end, decided to allocate NIS 800 million to the SELA Disengagement Authority, which is carrying out the project via the Nahal Sorek Regional Council.