(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 25 March 2007:

1.  Prime Minister Ehud Olmert noted that, "Last night, the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution #1747, which imposes additional sanctions on Iran in order to cause it to freeze its uranium enrichment program, which is liable to turn it into a nuclear power. Undoubtedly, this is an additional, significant step up in the international struggle to Iran’s nuclear armament program. We have already seen that previous resolutions, especially #1737, have had significant influence not only on the international atmosphere but also on Iran’s domestic affairs.

This decision is an important, encouraging step by the international community and we will continue to act to the best of our ability in those areas in which we have influence in order to strengthen this international front so that we can – in the end – achieve the desired result. The Israeli position has always been to prefer a political, diplomatic and economic solution to the Iranian problem. This is the preferred and desirable solution and I very much believe that the concentrated strength of the international community, as we have seen it now, will continue. There is a tangible chance to also reach the result that we are interested in."

Prime Minister Olmert said that this will be a very busy week diplomatically. He pointed out that US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice will arrive this evening for a visit and added that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been in the country since last night. German Chancellor Angela Merkel will arrive this weekend for her second visit. The Prime Minister noted that all of the foregoing will meet with him and with other ministers.

On the Palestinian issue, Prime Minister Olmert said that Israel has drawn encouragement from the international community’s position regarding the Palestinian issue: "The Quartet statement, like that of the entire international community, is certainly a step that we view as positive. It is impossible to ignore the fact that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has grossly violated a series of commitments that he has given to Israel, especially the commitment that a Palestinian unity government would not be established before Gilad Shalit was released. This commitment was given to me more than once, including in the 19 February 2007 trilateral meeting, and was given to world leaders, who will also wonder how it is possible to violate a commitment so grossly.

Of course, the platform of the Palestinian unity government legitimizes the continuation of violent opposition, which is also a violation of the Chairman’s commitments. This will not facilitate – in the near future – contacts between us and the Palestinian Authority (PA). There is no doubt that completely different conduct by the PA is required in order to create the correct equation for encouraging a fruitful negotiating process.

Of course, in my talks, I assume that my counterparts will also emphasize the commitments that have been given by the PA regarding the release of Gilad Shalit, and that the release of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser and the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution #1701 will also be emphasized in my talks with UN Secy.-Gen. Ban Ki-moon."

Prime Minister Olmert welcomed Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and the appointments of Minister Yitzhak Herzog as Minister of Social Affairs and Services and Minister Raleb Majadele as Minister of Science, Culture and Sports.

2. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer briefed the Cabinet on his visit to Australia. His visit focused on the water crisis in Australia and possible solutions that Israel could offer with its technology and know-how. Minister Ben-Eliezer noted the great admiration for Israel among Australian government leaders and added that he had also discussed both the expansion of bilateral trade and investment in Israel.

3. Interior Minister Ronnie Bar-On and Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson briefed the Cabinet on the solutions that were achieved last week regarding the non-payment of salaries to certain local council employees.

4. The Cabinet approved the decision by the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies that campaign that was conducted in the north last summer would be known as the Second Lebanese War.

5. The Cabinet confirmed Defense Minister Amir Peretz’s decision regarding a citation to commemorate participation in the Second Lebanese War. The Defense Minister will present proposals regarding the citation to the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies.

6. The Cabinet amended its previous decisions regarding the granting of benefits to communities in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip and included the Shikmim Farm in the list of eligible communities. The farm had been left off the list at the explicit request of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon despite its location within the seven-kilometer limit.

7. Pursuant to Article 38 of Basic Law: The Government, the Cabinet decided to propose that the Knesset declare a state of emergency for one year, in continuation of its previous declaration, made on 31 May 2006. The Justice Ministry will continue to coordinate with the other relevant ministries on legislation regarding the declaration of states of emergency.

8. The Cabinet approved the appointment of Ronnie Brison as the Economic Attaché to the EU in Brussels.

9. The Cabinet amended its September 2006 decision regarding the development of the Remez neighborhood in Lod.

10. The Cabinet decided to establish a Health Ministry unit on antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

11. The Cabinet discussed the allocation of public housing in various cities for students who engage in community service.

12. The Cabinet decided to exempt from public tender the position of Director of the Interior Ministry Population Administration.