(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 28 June 2009:
1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"Last Thursday, I returned from an important and successful round of talks with Italian and French leaders. The goal of the visit was to brief them on our principles for a peaceful solution as I expressed them in my Bar-Ilan University speech, and persuade them that this is the correct, just and practical path to achieve an agreement between us and the Palestinians.
Over three days, I met with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, as well as with leading Italian and French opinion-makers and commentators, and I found that my interlocutors were attentive. Regarding the principles that we presented, I saw that there was a genuine international willingness to accept them as foundations for peace.
- The first principle is the need for explicit Palestinian recognition of the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
- The second need is the demilitarization of a Palestinian state in such a manner that all of Israel's security needs will be met.
- The third item is that there must be international backing of these security arrangements in the form of explicit international guarantees.
- The fourth item is that the problem of refugees must be resolved outside the borders of Israel.
- The fifth item is the need that the agreement be an end to the conflict. This is to say that the Palestinians will not be able to raise additional claims following the signing of a peace agreement.
These principles are very solid and were raised very clearly by myself and by those in my delegation, which included Finance Minister Dr. Yuval Steinitz and Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, and I think, I know, that they expressed a very broad national consensus."
Prime Minister Netanyahu also said that detailed discussions were held on various issues regarding the situation in the Middle East:
"The issue of settlements came up only in a limited fashion.
Regarding the postponement of the meeting with Mitchell, which came at our initiative, I asked defense Minister Ehud Barak to contact him and request a postponement because there were several additional matters that we wished to clarify. Thus, I proposed that the meeting first be with Defense Minister Barak - and then I would meet with him afterwards - on Sunday or Monday in the US. He immediately agreed. The media said that the meeting was cancelled; there was no cancellation.
There is truth in the principles that I presented and it is very difficult for someone to be against these words of truth. I think that if we refine a process of compromise and agreement, a historic agreement, even for the Palestinians in regard to us, something which there has never been, insisting on these items is correct. It is not only tactically correct but is also substantively correct. It reflects their willingness or unwillingness to end the conflict. We are not prepared to the side that only gives; we also want to be the side that receives and for us this is genuinely accepting conditions of peace and peace in their deepest sense. We will not whitewash or blur this. I think that they understand this change. They appreciate it. I am speaking not only about the leaders but about the principal shapers of public opinion in both Italy and France. I did not encounter any substantive opposition, even tactical, to what we said. Somebody asked once if there was no detraction from Palestinian sovereignty here. I did not understand why Palestinian self-determination requires them to have rockets or Kassam missiles for firing at Israel.
Minister Isaac Herzog asked if the issue of Lebanon came up during the meetings in France. Indeed it did but I prefer not to go into details. However, I will emphasize and clarify one substantive point: While it is certainly good that Hizbullah did not win the elections, if Hizbullah will now be part of the Lebanese government, then the Lebanese government will be directly responsible for Hizbullah's actions and for the weapons it possesses. The Lebanese government will be directly responsible for Hizbullah operations against Israel."
2. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Foreign Ministry Director-General Yosef Gal briefed ministers on the main issues and processes being handled by the Foreign Ministry, as well as on the structure of the Ministry.
3. Pursuant to Article 5a of the 2008 National Security Council Act, the Cabinet approved the appointment of Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Avriel Bar-Yosef as National Security Council Deputy Chairman.
4. The Cabinet discussed the financing of afternoon daycare in order to promote the integration of mothers in the workforce.