(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 6 April 2008:

1. ISA Director Yuval Diskin briefed ministers on current security matters. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the following remarks:

"Acts of terrorism in the Gaza Strip are continuing. The firing of Kassam rockets at the south is continuing, as is gunfire. Public Security Minister Avi Dichter and a large group of visitors from abroad were attacked last Friday. His aide, Matti, was wounded. We are used to seeing him here at the start of a Cabinet meeting; he is now in hospital. We wish him a quick recovery and hope that he will quickly return to work. 

But this incident is an example of the continuing terrorism in the Gaza Strip, for which only Hamas is responsible. One must understand that Hamas controls Gaza and, from our point of view, it is responsible for all acts of terrorism, all aggressive activity and all shooting that originates there. It is altogether unimportant who claims responsibility for this or that incident. Hamas, and Hamas alone, is responsible for what happens in the Gaza Strip. It bears the responsibility and it will answer for the results of these terrorist acts. I reiterate: Israel will not countenance Hamas’s actions, and the response will not be long in coming."

2. Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai briefed ministers on this week’s national home front drill.

Prime Minister Olmert said, "I want to emphasize that this is only a drill, with nothing hiding behind it. All reports about heightened tension in the north are exaggerated; we have no secret plans. This drill is not part of anything else. It seems to me that the Syrians know this as well; they have no reason to analyze this drill differently. I would like to make it unequivocally clear that this is a routine drill. The State of Israel is not intent on any violent confrontation in the north. On the contrary, we have said more than once that we have an interest in holding peace negotiations with Syria. They know exactly what our expectations are. I can also say that we know what their expectations are; if these conditions will bear fruit, then this is what we are intent on and nothing else."

3. Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Shalom Simhon briefed ministers on the current state of agriculture in Israel. 

4. Social Welfare and Social Services Minister Yitzhak Herzog reminded ministers that the Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives, on 12 March 2008, at the suggestion of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, passed a decision congratulating the State of Israel on the occasion of its 60th Anniversary. Minister Herzog added that he sees the decision in the context of deep ties between Israel and Australia, which began upon the former’s establishment, and is based on common values. He also commended Prime Minister Rudd’s remarks, as well as those of the Leader of the Opposition.

5. Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila briefed ministers on preparations and events for Israel’s 60th anniversary.

6. The Cabinet discussed the reconstruction of the Hurva (Rabbi Yehudah Hahasid) synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.

7. The Cabinet decided that the position of Director of the National Information Directorate in the Prime Minister’s Office
would be exempt from public tender (see para. 5 of the weekly Cabinet meeting of 8 July 2007.