(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 1.1.06:

1. The Cabinet dedicated its meeting to the proposals regarding the struggle against serious and organized crime, a plan to protect witnesses and the issue of reinforcing police personnel, that were submitted by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon made the following remarks:

"This morning, the Cabinet will discuss steps to increase personal security.  As I have stated previously, the war on crime and violence will feature prominently in the Government’s agenda in the coming years. I see these phenomena as domestic terrorism and this is how the issue needs to be treated.

The decisions that we will make today will intensify the State of Israel’s struggle against organized crime and will strengthen cooperation between the various enforcement authorities. We will approve the creation of a witness protection authority in the Public Security Ministry, the establishment of integrated intelligence teams for the economic war on organized crime, and other measures.

Additionally, as we have already announced, we will reinforce the Israel Police with personnel from the IDF. As a result of our decisions today, the Israel Police will receive approximately 1,500 soldiers; this is in addition to recruiting regular police officers and technology cadets.

I have appointed Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ilan Cohen to coordinate a professional team, along with Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi and Finance Ministry representatives, in order to consider additional ways of strengthening the Israel Police.  he team will recommend practical steps and Israel Police organizational reforms.

I would like to emphasize: This issue will not be removed from the Government’s agenda.  We will increase Israeli citizens’ level of personal security."

2. Regarding the struggle on serious and organized crime, the Cabinet decided as follows:

A. To declare the struggle against serious and organized crime to be a long-term national goal;

B. To step the struggle against serious and organized crime by adopting a policy in which combines the capabilities of all relevant professional elements and – to this end – to establish the professional forums detailed below that will set and lead the goals of the plan for the war on serious and organized crime;

C. To strengthen cooperation between the various law enforcement bodies in the war on serious and organized crime;

D. To establish a senior committee to outline policy for the war on serious and organized crime:

The senior committee, which will meet periodically, will be led by the Attorney-General and will include the State Prosecutor, the Israel Police commissioner, the Israel Tax Authority Director and the Israel Securities Authority Director. The senior committee will outline an integrated policy for the struggle against serious and organized crime, approve a multi-year working plan, and define priorities. The senior committee will issue bi-annual reports to the Ministerial Committee on the struggle Against Violence.

E. To establish a standing committee, chaired by the Israel Police Intelligence and Investigations Branch Commander, to direct and coordinate policy for the struggle against serious and organized crime;

F. To establish an integrated intelligence committee for the struggle against economic crimes related to serious and organized crime;

G. To establish a Public Security, Justice and Finance ministries team to accompany the work of the senior committee and the standing committee in order to integrate budgetary aspects in formulating and implementing policy and the working plan.

H. To advance the necessary legislative amendments for the struggle against serious and organized crime.

3. The Cabinet discussed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s and Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra’s plan regarding witness protection and decided – inter alia – to establish the Israel Witness Protection Authority within the Public Security Ministry.

4. The Cabinet decided that the Israel Police would be reinforced in 2006 with approximately 1,500 soldiers from among candidates for security service in the IDF.