(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the special Cabinet meeting today (Wednesday), 18 January 2006:

1. The Cabinet approved the appointment of three new ministers and a redistribution of portfolios among existing ministers.  Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said, "Our intention is to efficiently continue the work of government in all ministries. The Government must provide services, make decisions and manage all systems in an orderly fashion; this is what we are doing and what we will continue to do. Bringing in the new ministers and redistributing portfolios to existing ministers will enable us to do so in the best possible way."

Attorney-General Meni Mazuz made it clear that the Government has been a transitional Government since 30 December 2005 and discussed the relevant articles of Basic Law: The Government.

Pursuant to Article 30b of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided as follows:

MK Ronni Bar-On will serve as National Infrastructures Minister and Science and Technology Minister;

MK Ze’ev Boim will serve as Construction and Housing Minister and Agriculture and Rural Development Minister;

MK Yaacov Edri will serve as Health Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister;

MK Meir Shetrit will serve as Education, Culture and Sports Minister, in addition to serving as Transportation and Road Safety Minister;

MK Tzipi Livni will serve as Foreign Minister in addition to serving as Justice Minister and Immigrant Absorption Minister;

MK Gideon Ezra will serve as Environment Minister in addition to serving as Public Security Minister;

MK Avraham Hirchson will serve as Communications minister in addition to serving as Tourism Minister.

The Knesset will be duly informed of the foregoing according to Articles 9a and 10 of Basic Law: The Government.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert said: "Some of you are accepting upon yourselves great responsibility as new ministers.  Do not forget that we are on the eve of elections and all of the rules, which Attorney-General Mazuz has communicated to each of you, must be remembered very well. We have no reason to deal with appointments and I recommend that those holding senior positions – including ministry directors-general- continue to do so. This is not the time for appointments, not even to positions-of-confidence. This is important and I very much request that you see to it. Of course, I wish each of you success. I ask that you quickly take up those matters that need to be dealt with because several of these might naturally have been overlooked for some time and thus require your personal attention and involvement."

2. Pursuant to Basic Law: The Government and with the agreement of Acting Prime Minister Olmert, the Cabinet approved the appointment of MK Majli Wahabee as Deputy Minister in the Education, Culture and Sports Ministry.

3. The Cabinet approved Ministers Bar-On’s and Edri’s inclusion as members of the Ministerial Committee on Socio-economic Affairs, and Minister Tzahi Hanegbi’s inclusion as a member of the Ministerial Committee on the ISA.