(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 28 March 2010:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:

"On behalf of the Government, I would like to convey our deepest condolences to the Sviatkovsky and Peretz families over the deaths of two Golani Brigade fighters, Ilan and Eliraz, who fell defending our southern communities from terrorist assaults from Gaza. Eliraz fell in the Gaza Strip, 12 years after his older brother Uriel fell in Lebanon, defending our communities in the north.

The Peretz family has lost two sons in the continuing conflict that we are waging against Iran’s emissaries of terrorism, and I would like to point out that two more of the family’s sons are currently serving in the Golani Brigade. We are deeply moved by the Peretz family’s greatness and strength of spirit, especially that of Miriam, mother of Uriel and Eliraz. The entire nation draws on her strength and the entire nation bows its head along with her over her fallen sons.

Israel’s policy of response is sharp and vigorous. We will respond sharply to any attack on our citizens and soldiers. This policy is well-known and will continue. Hamas and the other terrorist organizations must know that will bear the responsibility for their actions.

Last Thursday, I returned from my visit to Washington. I met with the leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate. I addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference, which was attended by hundreds of Congressmen and approximately 60 Senators. The next day, I spoke on Capitol Hill with leaders from both houses of Congress, where there was very strong support for Israel’s positions and the desire that Israeli-US relations should remain such that even when there are disagreements, they will be resolved as is proper among allies.

During the visit, I met – at their behest – with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  In these talks, we discussed a range of issue, including Iran and – first and foremost – our common desire to resume and restart the peace process. Naturally, we represent the State of Israel’s longstanding interests. We will try to bring about a situation in which we will be able to advance the peace process and preserve these interests. Regarding the issues that came up, there were areas in which there was full agreement, as well as those where there was disagreement. We tried to take – and we took – various steps to reduce the gaps in order to advance the process. We are continuing these efforts.

I have recently heard anonymous, unworthy remarks in the media regarding the American administration and the American President. I would like to make it clear: I find these remarks to be unacceptable. They are from nobody acting on my behalf. Relations between Israel and the US are those between allies and friends and reflect longstanding tradition. Even when there are differences of opinion, they are differences of opinion among friends and will remain so."

2. Prime Minister Netanyahu briefed ministers on his recent trip to the US, including his meetings with senior administration officials and his appearance at the AIPAC Policy Conference, and said the following:

"Regarding this trip, there is a certain gap between the nature of the talks and their public perception. I would like to point out the fact that perception is also a component. Nobody is so naïve as to think otherwise and we know that various remarks do, to our regret, create a predictable reality. The reality of the talks was different – those I held with Hillary Clinton, those I had over dinner at Vice President Biden’s residence, at which Defense Minister Ehud Barak was also present, and my talks with President Obama, which lasted about 1.5 hours and then continued for another 1.5 hours. The public perception is considerably different, in many respects, from the reality of the talks. However, there were areas in which we succeeded in reaching agreement and there are steps that we are also interested taking, in order to advance the process, and there are matters that we have yet to agree on.

One issue we discussed was the Iranian issue. Regarding Iran, the US is aware of the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and it is also trying to move towards agreement in the UN Security Council, to include both China and Russia. The Americans believe that there has been some progress vis-à-vis China. Naturally, the less agreement there is means that the sanctions will not be as strong. But the US thinks that it is making progress toward the possibility of achieving agreement."

Defense Minister Barak also briefed ministers on the trip to the US and discussed the deep nature of bilateral ties regarding assistance, as well as security and diplomatic links.

3. The Cabinet discussed the appointment of new kesim for the Ethiopian community.

4. The Cabinet instructed the Government Companies Authority to work towards the appointment of women to supervise advancement of the status of women in the various Government companies.