Jerusalem, September 1, 2003
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Monday), September 1, 2003:
1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon briefed ministers on current security matters.
Defense Minister Mofaz said that the murderous Hamas attack of August 19, 2003 in Jerusalem, in which 21 people were murdered, had opened a new and different chapter for Israel in its relationship with the Palestinians. He added that the attack had broken the track that was supposed to give the diplomatic process a chance and referred to the Palestinian Authority's passivity regarding the war on terrorism and the infrastructures of terror. In response, the security establishment has changed tack and adopted the following principles:
An all-out war against Hamas and other terrorist elements, including continuous strikes at the organization's leaders;
Increasing the pressure on foci of terror in Judea and Samaria;
Freezing the diplomatic process with the PA and making it clear that Israel will neither return to it nor move it forward unless it sees that the PA is taking tangible steps to deal with the infrastructures of terror.
Defense Minister Mofaz said that since the terror attack in Jerusalem, Israel cannot return to the previous "rules of the game." He asserted that the international community, along with the US, understands that there can be no going back to the rules of the 'hudna', but that an aggressive policy must adopted against Hamas for the sake of future regional stability.
From Israel's point-of-view, since the August 19th attack in Jerusalem, there have been five targeted eliminations of Hamas terrorists; operational activities in Judea and Samaria have been stepped up; arrests of fugitives have returned to their previous scale; and the security establishment is preparing for the possibility of a security escalation and renewed wave of terror against Israel.
Defense Minister Mofaz referred to the situation in the north and said that while Israel is maintaining its restraint, tensions are still high and the IDF is prepared for all possibilities.
IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Yaalon discussed recent attacks, especially the shooting and sniper attacks. He noted that Hamas has focused on attempts to launch Kassam rockets at Israeli communities and perpetrate suicide attacks wherever possible. He briefed ministers on actions that were approved by the Ministerial Committee on National Security and which were carried out by the IDF.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon directed Chief-of-Staff Yaalon to convey the Cabinet's gratitude and best wishes to the security forces.
2. The Cabinet took leave of National Security Council Chairman Ephraim Halevy who has recently concluded his duties.
3. The Cabinet noted that Prime Minister Sharon would be traveling to India next Sunday on an official visit.