(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 5 February 2006:

1. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the following remarks:

“Last week was characterized by important political and diplomatic activity designed to bring about a halt to Iran’s nuclear plans before these plans ripen into a very significant threat to both world peace and the State of Israel. There were two dramatic developments: The first was the IAEA decision to transfer the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council for a preliminary discussion.
This was the fruit of a complex effort in which Israel played a not insignificant part and will – in the end – present Iran with a very expensive price tag if it continues with its plans and tries to enrich fuel in order to realize the option of producing non-conventional weapons. There was also a very important development in the remarks by US President George Bush, who said that the US would stand by its ally Israel, including in the military sphere, if this became necessary, vs. the Iranian threat. I would like to thank US President Bush both for his continuing friendship and for his deep commitment to Israel’s security. Of course, we will continue the diplomatic effort and take all necessary steps so that Israel’s deterrent ability will not be impaired and to maintain our ability to defend ourselves.”

2. IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yedlin, Israel Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi, ISA Director Yuval Diskin, GOC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, Attorney-General Meni Mazuz, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and other senior officials briefed ministers on – inter alia – the international situation and Palestinian affairs, the Palestinian terrorism situation, the evacuation of the wholesale market in Hebron and the demolition of homes at Amona.

The briefings discussed the scope and severity of disturbances in Judea and Samaria since the disengagement, attempts at dialogue and meetings with community leaders in order to find solutions and reduce friction, the operational stages of the home demolitions at Amona and the order of forces that participated in the operation as well as the means employed, command and control during the operation, and the chain of events from Sunday, 29 January 2006, until the afternoon of Wednesday, 1 February 2006. The briefings detailed the scope of the injuries in the violent clashes at the site, the various incidents that took place during the demolitions and the status of the investigations into them (regarding both civilians and security forces personnel). It was noted that this not a disengagement operation but rather an action to enforce an order of the High Court of Justice.

Attorney General Mazuz added that this was neither a disengagement action nor a political evacuation decision but a routine action to enforce the law in a situation involving the highest degree of illegality. This was a chain of actions involving illegal construction. This was an illegal outpost, i.e. construction without a Government permit, without a permit from Defense Minister Mofaz, in contravention of plans, and without a work permit. Most severe – this was simply the theft of land, squatting and building on private land belonging to private individuals. The severity does not end there, but also encompassed gross contempt for proceedings and orders regarding the site. Therefore, this was neither a diplomatic nor a political question but one of carrying out demolition orders for structures that were built on land that was not theirs, in contravention of all rules and laws and after the exhaustion of both planning and judicial proceedings.

Attorney-General Mazuz emphasized that in the wake of the violence during the demolitions, there have been several arrests and approximately 17 indictments have been presented; an Israel Police team was working with the large amount of video footage in order to list all of the offenses and more arrests and indictments are expected. There is no intention to act with forbearance towards offenders in this case and there will be no forgiveness for violence. This was neither a demonstration nor a protest and no kind of freedom of expression was involved; this was wanton violence of the worst kind against the security forces; there will be no forgiveness for these actions and severe indictments will be issued in all cases warranted by the evidence. Regarding complaints against police personnel, the Justice Ministry Department for Investigating Police Personnel is dealing with this issue. The Deptartment at its own initiative, began one investigation the same day. Reports regarding the establishment of a state commission of inquiry – a judicial body with authority – is an issue within the Cabinet’s purview.

The Attorney General noted that he disagrees with the calls for a commission of inquiry and added that whoever thinks that police personnel used unreasonable violence should submit complaints, which will be thoroughly checked. He does not see any basis for the establishment of a commission of inquiry because the facts here are open and transparent and were filmed by dozens of photographers.

3. Foreign Minister and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni briefed ministers on diplomatic matters, including her recent visit to Egypt. She also commented on the Sasson Report on the outposts as follows:

  • It was made clear that the dismantling of illegal outposts does not require additional Cabinet decisions but may be carried out according to the decision of Acting Prime Minister Olmert and in accordance with the plan being prepared by the security establishment.  The ministerial committee is not dealing with the issue and is not due to make any decisions in its regard.
  • In accordance with the instructions of Attorney-General Mazuz, Government ministries are prohibited from transferring state funds to illegal outposts.
  • The courts will be authorized to discuss offenses that were perpetrated by Israelis for which they (the courts) hitherto lacked jurisdiction: Planning and construction offenses, moving mobile structures and a refusal to heed evacuation orders.  Further legislative amendments are awaiting security establishment approval.
  • The Justice Ministry is coordinating interministerial work at the professional level regarding such proceedings as may be necessary in the future regarding planning and construction in Judea and Samaria.

4. The Cabinet discussed and approved an economic development program for kibbutz Ein-Gedi

5. The Cabinet discussed and approved the draft 2006 Electricity Law.

6. The Cabinet discussed the issue of security rooms in residential structures in the area around the Gaza Strip that were built for residents of the Gaza Strip in the framework of the Disengagement. The Cabinet decided as follows:

A. In continuation of its 4 May 2005 decision regarding temporary construction in western Negev communities for the needs of residents of the Gaza Strip, and in light of the fact that this construction is being carried out with government assistance, the SELA Disengagement Authority will – pursuant to Article 4.B.xii of the 2005 Disengagement Plan Implementation Law – expand its contacts with the aforesaid communities as follows:

i. The communities will build security rooms within 60 days of the signing of an agreement between the communities and the Authority.

ii. The SELA Disengagement Authority will pay 50% of the costs involved up to NIS 25,000 per security room; the communities will pay the balance of the costs.

The SELA Disengagement Authority – in its preparations to absorb residents from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria – signed agreements with the communities of Mefalsim, Or Haner and Karmiya for the construction of residential neighborhoods for a temporary period until the move to permanent housing.  These structures were built without security rooms, in accordance with special permits. Last week, a special interministerial professional team agreed on a format for constructing security rooms within 60 days, with government subsidies as per the above. The Defense Ministry will place portable security rooms in these neighborhoods. The Defense Ministry will expedite the implementation of the security plans for communities in the area around the Gaza Strip.