(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 14 May 2006):

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said: "Israel Prize laureate and Jerusalemite Yossi Banai was laid to rest last Friday.  In the last two years we have lost several of the State of Israel’s finest artists, with Yossi Banai being the latest.  His unique voice had a central place in the story of the renewed Jewish state in the Land of Israel.  Yossi was a rare combination of styles and cultures, of the classical and the modern, the old and the new, that turned him into an Israeli cultural icon."

2. Prime Minister Olmert said: "Today we will take our leave from outgoing Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)  Director-General Ilan Cohen.  He has been with us in recent years and it seems to me that there is no need to say that he was beloved and appreciated by all ministers.  At times, the previous government excelled at its differences of opinion on various issues, which caused more than a few shocks that have already become part of history. But on one issue there was certainly wall-to-wall agreement in the cabinet and the entire political establishment, and this was that Ilan was special: incomparably fair, efficient, serious, responsible, dedicated.  He was involved in all of the government’s major decisions, especially the Disengagement Plan, in which he led on almost all aspects related to its implementation and did so prudently, sagaciously, sensitively and successfully; for this, he is justly deserving of all praise.  Ilan, on behalf of the entire cabinet, the previous cabinet, and the State of Israel, I would like to thank you, praise you and wish you success in the future.  You are not entirely leaving us, because I have asked that you continue to advise me since your understanding and counsel are important to me.

I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome incoming PMO Director-General Ra’anan Dinur, who will take up his post upon Ilan’s departure."

3. The cabinet noted that IDF Reserves Appreciation Day will, pursuant to its decision, take place on Tuesday, 16 May 2006.  Prime Minister Olmert said: "There is no need to say that the IDF has always been based, first and foremost, on the reservists who have been the backbone of our military strength, have participated in all of Israel’s wars and were a decisive factor in all of Israel’s victories."

Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief Reserves Officer Brig.-Gen. Danny Biran briefed ministers on the current state of the IDF reserves.  The defense minister said that the State of Israel needs to show its appreciation for reservists, who are a select and high-quality sector and who deserve unique treatment and recompense for their singular contributions to Israel’s security.  He emphasized that reserve duty is still one of the last places in society, in which citizens from all sectors and walks of life serve together without distinction either between religious and secular or between the various ethnic communities.

Brig.-Gen. Biran stressed the importance of IDF reserve duty since it is a civilian framework that plays a major role in Israeli society and which assumes a very significant part vis-à-vis the security of the State of Israel.  It is precisely due to the fact that it is a relatively small framework relative to the overall society, that it is important to afford it the proper status, appreciation and esteem.  He expressed the hope that passage of the reserve duty bill – which would, first and foremost, define the purpose and function of reserve duty and assure that reserve duty will be shorter – would be finalized soon in the Knesset.

4. The cabinet decided to re-approve draft legislation regarding the acquisition of land for public use.

5. Pursuant to Article 7 of the 1959 Civil Service Law Party Activities and the Collection of Funds), the cabinet decided to allow the Israel Police to receive – for the Border Police Anti-Terrorism Unit – from the Soldier’s Welfare Association a shekel donation equivalent to $1.7 million in order to build a sports and physical fitness center.

6. Pursuant to Basic Law: The Government , the cabinet decided to transfer the Social Welfare Minister’s responsibilities under the 1989 Veteran Citizens Law to the prime minister.

7. The cabinet appointed the following ministerial committees (a full listing of the committees, including their members and responsibilities, will soon be available on-line; details to be issued separately):

a. Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Olmert;
b. Ministerial Committee on Legislation, chaired by Justice Minister Haim Ramon;
c. Ministerial Committee on Socio-Economic Affairs (the Socio-Economic Cabinet), chaired by Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson;
d. Ministerial Committee on the Non-Jewish Sector, chaired Construction and Housing Minister Meir Shetrit;
e. Ministerial Committee on Foreign Service Appointments, to be chaired by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni;
f. Ministerial Committee on Negev and Galilee Development, chaired by Vice-Premier Shimon Peres;
g. Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies, chaired by Minister Ya’akov Edri;
h. Ministerial Committee on the Israel Security Agency, chaired by Prime Minister Olmert;
i. Ministerial Committee on Classified Archival Material, chaired by Justice Minister Ramon;
j. Ministerial Privatization Committee, chaired by Finance Minister Hirchson;
k. Ministerial Committee on Approving Publications, chaired by Justice Minister Ramon;
l. Ministerial Committee on the Environment and Hazardous Materials, chaired by Environment Minister Gideon Ezra;
m. Ministerial Committee on Immigrant Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Olmert;
n. Ministerial Interior Committee, chaired by Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On;
o. Ministerial Committee on Science and Technology, chaired by Science, Technology, Culture, and Sports Minister Ophir Pines-Paz;
p. Ministerial Committee on Coordination Between the Government and the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, chaired by Prime Minister Olmert;
q. Ministerial Committee on Earthquake Preparations, chaired by National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer;
r. Ministerial Committee on the Struggle Against Violence, chaired by Internal Security Minister Avraham Dichter;
s. Ministerial Committee Regarding the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, chaired by Interior Minister Bar-On;
t. Ministerial Committee on Ethiopian Jews, chaired by Interior Minister Bar-On;
u. Ministerial Committee on Implementing the Disengagement Plan Regarding Assistance to Residents and Alternative Housing, chaired by Prime Minister Olmert;
v. Ministerial Committee on the Employment of Foreign Workers, chaired by Industry, Trade, and Labor Minister Eliyahu Yishai.

8. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the cabinet appointed Shmuel Abuav as Education Ministry Director-General in place of Amira Haim.

9. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments), the cabinet appointed Gabriel Maimon as Industry, Trade,  and Labort Ministry director-general.

10. The cabinet approved Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer’s proposal regarding new coin issues.