(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting held Sunday, 29 March 2009:
1. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the following remarks:
"This is the 146th and final meeting of the 31st Government. We expect that the new Government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, will be presented to the Knesset this week and this Government's role will end. I very much hope that the new Government will continue to act on the important and central issues that this Government has dealt with and will – according to its path and its vision – will take up other issues. In light of the concept of continuity of rule, there will certainly be many items that the new Government will continue to deal with, just as this Government, which is ending its term, dealt with the issues that its predecessors did. In the end, I have no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu's new Government will do its utmost in order to realize the State of Israel's dream to live in peace and security, with quality of life and in an atmosphere of joy and satisfaction, the dream that every Government has hoped for, acted on behalf of and done its utmost to realize.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the functioning of the Government, to the employees at all Government offices, to administrators at all levels. We are always naturally inclined to thank the senior staff, but we all very well know the government is complex and that a democratic government consists of tens of thousands of people, all of whom come in the morning, work hard, receive salaries – which are usually not very high – and do their work reputably, faithfully, with care and reliability, and especially with love for this country. I take the opportunity of this Government's last Cabinet meeting to thank all these thousands of Government officials and to say that these are people that the State of Israel and Government of Israel are proud of.
I will yet say things in this week's Knesset meetings, directly to Benjamin Netanyahu, who will sit in this chair next week. Today I can only tell him one thing. Benjamin Netanyahu was the one who told me after I was appointed to my position, in the first meeting which we held in the Prime Minister's Residence, he told me at the end of the meeting, "This is a tough job." I now know this. He has an advantage upon entering the post now for the second time, that he knows this from the first time.
I wish that he succeeds in the job and that he will lead the Government of Israel, and I have no doubt that he will lead the country to achievements and will lead it towards fulfilling its dreams, which are the dreams of us all."
2. Israel Security Agency Director Yuval Diskin briefed ministers on current security matters. Prime Minister Olmert took his leave from the ISA and from ISA Director Diskin: "Thank you very much. I am very grateful and I would like to take the opportunity of your being invited to this Government's last meeting, to say that as one who worked with you very closely over the past few years, and on behalf of the entire Government, we are proud of you and the ISA.
The State of Israel has exemplary security services, including thousands of employees. This is very complex and complicated work and I think that the manner in which it is done provides great security to the State of Israel. As I said, the Government of Israel commends you and each one of the thousands of ISA personnel for their exceptional work."
ISA Director Diskin thanked Prime Minister Olmert and the Government.
3. Pursuant to its authority under Article 7 of the 1959 State Service (Restriction on Party-Political Activity and Fund-Raising) Law, the Cabinet decided to authorize the President's Residence to accept from the JNF NIS 3 million to improve the gardens at the Residence.
4. Pursuant to its authority under the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, the Cabinet approved a construction blueprint for a section of Route #561, east of Netanya.
5. Pursuant to its authority under the 1965 Planning and Construction Law, the Cabinet approved a construction blueprint for additional electricity generating capacity at the Eshkol site.
6. Pursuant to the 1958 Higher Education Council Law, the Cabinet approved the Higher Education Council's 17 March 2009 decision to issue the Mar Elias Educational Institutions a permit to open an institute of higher education.
7. Pursuant to the 1958 Higher Education Council Law, the Cabinet approved the Higher Education Council's 17 March 2009 decision to issue Ort's Hermelin College of Engineering a permit to open an institution of higher education.
8. Justice Minister Prof. Daniel Friedmann briefed ministers on the conditions under which Palestinian security prisoners in Israel are held. Israel Prison Service Commissioner Benny Kaniak briefed ministers on the recommendations of his team on the conditions under which the prisoners are held, including the recommendations regarding the Palestinian prisoners' privileges.
The Deputy Attorney General discussed the legal aspects of the issue, following which the ministers held a discussion.
9. Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel and Prime Minister's Office Director-General Ra'anan Dinur briefed ministers on the various ministries' preparations for the transfer of power to the new ministers and directors-general.
10. Prime Minister Olmert took his leave from the ministers of the 31st Government: "I would like to thank you all and to wish each one of you success. I believe in the State of Israel, in its vitality, in its fortitude and in its aspiration to change the face of reality, not to be led but to lead. This has always been, and always will be, the secret of our strength."
The ministers toasted the State of Israel, wished success to the next Government and wished a Happy Passover to the entire Jewish people.