(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 21 September 2008:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the following remarks:

"As you all know, the entire world is in an economic crisis that has upset global markets to an extent that we have not felt for decades. The effects of what may be entitled ‘the economic earthquake’ that has shaken the world’s markets will not disappear from before our eyes or from our consciousness.  Last week, I held a series of discussions with Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On and with Bank of Israel Governor Prof. Stanley Fisher. We discussed matters, we analyzed the possibilities. Various elements led by the Finance minister and the Governor took a series of steps in Israel, in cooperation with business leaders, in order to assure that we would be able to minimize the effects of global market movements on the Israeli economy.

In retrospect, it seems to me that our insistence that the Government pass the 2009 budget was a decision of decisive importance in upholding the public image of the Israeli economy’s stability and continuity. I very much hope that this responsibility will continue to characterize our conduct in the coming months, both in the Government and the Knesset, ahead of discussions on the budget. We must remember that 2008 is not an ordinary year. We can finish the year with significant growth and lay the foundations for continued growth in 2009 but we must show responsibility. The achievements of 2008, so far, are the best in the world, according to all international experts."

Prime Minister Olmert eulogized Major-General (res.) Moshe Nativ, who passed away yesterday (Saturday), 20 September 2008. He also hailed a series of recent Israeli sporting achievements, including by Israel’s delegation to the Beijing Paralympics and the national basketball team’s 98-61 victory last night over the Czech Republic.

2. Prime Minister Olmert issued the following statement about his resignation from the Government: "I intend to submit, to President Shimon Peres, my letter of resignation, as required by Article 19 of Basic Law: The Government.  I hereby notify the Government of my intention to do so."

3. Industry Trade and Employment Minister Eli Yishai and Industry, Trade and Employment Ministry Director-General Gavriel Maimon briefed ministers on the activities of their ministry and its policy objectives. 

4. The Cabinet discussed the issue of national civilian service, including the number of positions under the National and Civic Service Administration in 2009-2011, various administrative issues and the strengthening of the national service as per the 2002 ‘Tal Law’ on the deferral of military service for yeshiva students. 

5. The Cabinet discussed the establishment of science parks and smart classrooms in the Negev, as part of the Negev Development Plan, and budgeted NIS 31.5 million to this effect.

6. The Cabinet discussed the work of the interministerial committee on reforms in the field of television broadcasts

7. The Cabinet decided that there will be no classes at all schools and educational institutions that serve as polling places for the upcoming local elections, on 11 November 2008. 

8. The Cabinet decided to cancel an NIS 85.9 million cut in the Defense Ministry budget regarding the implementation of a plan to aid Holocaust survivors and support payments to the needy elderly.