(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 14 January 2007:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert briefed ministers on his visit to China. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni briefed ministers on US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleeza Rice’s visit to Israel and the region. IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz and ISA Director Yuval Diskin briefed ministers on security issues.

Regarding his visit to China, Prime Minister Olmert said: “This was a very important visit both economically and diplomatically. This morning I instructed that comprehensive Government staff work begin in order to prepare for the expansion of economic relations with China, which have great potential, which I discussed at length with Chinese President Hu Jintao, with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and with business people and mayors.  The visit also had important diplomatic aspects.”

Foreign Minister Livni said that US Secy. of State Dr. Rice’s visit to Israel and the region is designed – inter alia – to examine the regional situation and exchange ideas as the Bush administration enters its last two years in office. The Foreign Minister noted that among the moderate countries of the region there is agreement regarding the danger posed by Iran and added that several of these countries link the Iranian and Israeli-Palestinian issues, a link that Israel completely rejects. She said that consideration must be given to the questions of whether or not an opportunity has been created for cooperation and what needs to be done to strengthen the moderate elements.

IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Halutz and ISA Director Diskin briefed ministers on current security issues related to Palestinian affairs, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Egypt and Jordan.

2. Defense Minister Amir Peretz raised the issues of the clashes in Hebron, including at Tel Rumeida, between settlers and local residents and said that the state must provide significant legal tools to both the police and the security forces in order to deal with the situation. Prime Minister Olmert referred to the confrontation between a woman resident of the Hebron Jewish community and a Palestinian woman: “I was ashamed to see a young Jewish woman standing in front of the Palestinian woman and speaking to her as she did. I was ashamed of her aggressiveness. This was sheer provocation. I expect all those who support the settlers and who love the Land of Israel to completely disavow her because she shames this entire public. One can favor or oppose settlement but there is an unacceptable gap between this and such boorishness, condescension and contempt. I say this on behalf of the entire government.”

Regarding the issue of law enforcement in Judea and Samaria and the need to provide the police and the security forces with significant legal tools, Prime Minister Olmert instructed Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Peretz, Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On to formulate proposals on the issue.

3. Prime Minister Olmert informed ministers that he intends – in the coming days – to complete the appointment of positions in the government, including those from the Labor and Yisrael Beitenu factions. He added that he views the appointment of an Arab minister as having great positive significance: “I very much support the appointment of an Arab minister.  I think that the time for this has come.”

4. Pursuant to the 1959 Civil Service Law (Appointments) and the recommendation of the Civil Service Committee, the Cabinet decided to exempt from public tender the position of National Commissioner for Equal Opportunity in the Workplace.

5. Pursuant to the 1994 National Health Insurance Law, the recommendation of Health Minister Yaacov Ben-Yizri and the approval of the Health Council, the Cabinet approved the appointment of Esther Smama as Public Complaints Commissioner regarding the Law.

6. Pursuant to the 1965 Israel Broadcasting Authority Law, the Cabinet decided to recommend that President Moshe Katsav appoint the following people to the Israel Broadcasting Authority Plenum: Attorney Moshe Gavish, Attorney Rabbi Gilad Kariv and Dr. Suweid Abu Rochan.

7. The Cabinet decided to extend an amended version of the 2002 Capital Investments Encouragement Order.

8. Pursuant to Article V of the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provisions), the Cabinet decided to extend the Law by three months, until 15 April 2007, pending Knesset approval. The Knesset also decided that if the draft 2007 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Provisions) (Amendment #2) passes its second and third Knesset readings by 16 January 2007, the order extending the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (above) will not be signed.