At the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday, 21 December 2008:

1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert discussed the calm in the south:

"It is no secret that last June, we decided on the calm agreement; we did so with more than a few doubts and hesitations.  The State of Israel has always hoped for and wanted quiet for the residents of the south and that they should enjoy genuine calm and be free of the threat of unceasing Kassam and mortar attacks that have disrupted life in the south for a very long period.  Naturally, we also wanted the absolute cessation of all other acts of terrorism and weapons smuggling.  It was on this basis, with more than a little hesitation, but out of the assessment that this was the way to act responsibly, that we decided then to act toward the selfsame calm.  It was clear that this calm could exist only as long as it was upheld.  The calm could exist only as long as it was administered by both sides and not with one side relentlessly launching Kassams and mortars, thus repeatedly disrupting residents’ daily lives.

I am aware of the fact that we are living in a period that is naturally sensitive and that  many people think that  making aggressive and daring statements will solve all problems.  I have no intention of competing with any of those who issue such statements.  But we must provide responses to various scenarios that could occur in the south.  The scenarios are clear.  The plans are clear.  The determination is clear, as is the significance of each step.  A responsible government is neither eager for battle, nor does it shy away from it.  I have said this in the past, and I say it again now.  Therefore, we will take the necessary measures with the necessary responsibility.  I will not go into detail about the steps; neither will I raise the volume, since this has no bearing on reality, but only on the atmosphere, which cannot be a basis for the conduct of Government policy, especially during this sensitive and important time.

The State of Israel will know when to respond, how to respond, and will respond with the necessary responsibility."

  • Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin briefed the ministers on intelligence issues regarding the calm in the south.  He also referred to the internal situation in the Gaza Strip and various issues related to the Palestinian Authority.
  • Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed the ministers on the situation in Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip in light of recent security developments, following Hamas’s declaration that the calm is ended.

The Cabinet discussed the aforementioned briefings.

2. Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila and Tourism Ministry Director-General Shaul Tzemah briefed the ministers on the tourism sector, especially incoming tourism in 2008 (see attached Tourism Ministry document).

3. National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Water Authority Director Uri Shani briefed ministers on the water crisis and its possible consequences for the country and its citizens.

4. SELA Disengagement Authority Director Tzvia Shimon briefed the ministers on the Authority’s activities among Gush Katif evacuees and on projects stemming from the Disengagement.

5. The Cabinet discussed the issue of the forgiveness of debts to the World Zionist Organization Rural Settlement Division by evacuees and evacuee cooperative associations.