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Sunday, January 18, 2004
CABINET COMMUNIQUE 18 January, 2004 [Swedish incident, minority hiring-directors]

CABINET COMMUNIQUE 18 January, 2004[Swedish incident, minority
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
18 January, 2004

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 18.1.2004:

1. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last night (Saturday), 17.1.2004,
telephoned Israeli Ambassador Zvi Mazal and thanked him for his stance
against the increasing phenomenon of anti-Semitism and said that Israel
supports him in this matter. The Prime Minister added that "we are
witnesses to increased anti-Semitism in the world and in Europe
specifically. The phenomenon is continuing and is becoming more
serious. The government has discussed this in the past and will
continue to deal with the issue together with other countries in order
to increase activity against anti-Semitism. I believe that Ambassador
Zvi Mazal acted correctly as what we witnessed there was so serious that
it is forbidden for us to remain silent."

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said: "Freedom of expression does not
give anyone the right to justify terror attacks against Israeli
citizens. It is unreasonable that an exhibition which is supposed to
deal with preventing murder will include an exhibit which identifies
with a woman responsible for the murder of dozens of Israelis. This is
very dangerous."

The Foreign Minister added that the exhibit "reflects increased European
identification with and justification of terror against Israel and
demonstrates complete insensitivity and thoughtlessness to the suffering
of the citizens of an entire state as well as those who have been
injured and lost loved ones in terror attacks. It is common in Europe
today, for the tables to be turned and for murderers to be labeled as
victims, and that Israel is always guilty.

In contrast to this public/media wave against Israel stands the improved
relationships that have been cultivated between Israel and many European
governments. There will be those who will condemn the actions of the
Israeli Ambassador, and will assert that there are other methods through
which to express their opposition to such incidents. However, we do
protest, and we will bring these issues to the public agenda, and we
caution our partners in Europe, in governments, in academia and in the

We must view Ambassador Mazal's action as cry for everyone. His actions
will raise the issue of the double standards with which Israel is judged
and apathy towards the suffering of Israeli civilians in the face of
Palestinian terror.

Just as Israel would not provide shelter, artistic or otherwise, and in
doing so justify or generate understanding towards the person that
murdered the Swedish Foreign Minister, we also expect that Sweden and
any other moral country, would not patronize an artistic exhibit
justifying the murder of Israelis.

The exhibit is a violation of the agreement with the Swedish government,
whereby the Israeli-Palestinian issue would not be included in the
convention on the subject of genocide. This despite the attempts of
various organizations to include the Palestinian issue in the

The Swedish Ambassador to Israel will be invited to the Foreign Ministry
today to explain how this agreement was violated by the Swedish
organizers and how they can justify the insensitivity demonstrated by
them towards a friendly country such as Israel.

2. Prime Minister Sharon announced that Maj. Gen (res.) Giora Eiland
today took up his post as Chairman of the National Security Council and
wished him luck in his new position.

3. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and the Director of the Foreign
Ministry Planning Division presented the government with its targets,
and emphasized the main areas the office deals with.

4. The government appointed Mr. Zvi Hefetz as Israeli Ambassador to

5. The government approved NIS 19 million from a number of Ministry
budgets in order to continue funding plans for improvements and visits
to the Western Wall. Minister for Immigration Absorption Tzipi Livni
announced that she would allocate NIS 2 million for tours and visits to
Jerusalem and the Western Wall.

The Western Wall is a central focus for Jewish and non-Jewish
worshippers. A large number of tourists and visitors from all over the
world visit the Wall each year, in addition to the large number of
religious, national and military ceremonies which take place there.

The plaza in front of the Wall is in need of improvement, and the funds
will be used to carry out these changes.

6. Prime Minister Sharon reminded ministers that five months ago it was
decided that ministers appointed in government companies and other
public bodies had to act to achieve fair representation for the
non-Jewish population, and that the first target was to appoint someone
from the non-Jewish population as a Director. Recent data shows that
only 32 people from the non-Jewish sector had been appointed as
directors out of 105 companies. The Prime Minister announced that the
Government Companies Authority had been instructed not to approve any
further appointments until the government body has appointed a
non-Jewish director.

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