At the weekly Cabinet meeting

1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz briefed ministers on post-war Iraq and the campaign against Palestinian terrorism. Regarding the former, the Defense Minister noted that the past week had witnessed a turning point ahead of the outcome of the war, the fall of Baghdad and the collapse of the Iraqi regime.

The historic pictures speak for themselves and recall those from the collapse of other dictatorial regimes around the world. Defense Minister Mofaz emphasized that the American achievement, coming within three weeks, is worthy of note. However, the war is not over and coalition forces still face such tasks as: completing their control of all of Iraq, stabilizing the security situation, meeting civilian and humanitarian needs, and rebuilding an administration for Iraq. Defense Minister Mofaz said that Syria’s negative role has highlighted again, this time by Damascus’ giving sanctuary to persons identified with the Iraqi regime. Defense Minister Mofaz noted that Israel has neither been involved, nor has intervened, in this campaign. Regarding the campaign against Palestinian terror, Defense Minister Mofaz noted that the terrible Park Hotel massacre occurred one year ago in Netanya (, on the first night of Passover, i.e. Seder Night. The ensuing Operation “Defensive Shield” ( reversed the trend and led to the foiling of the great majority of the terrorists’ efforts. Defense Minister Mofaz reviewed last week’s attacks and referred to Israel’s continuing and unrelenting pressure on the foci of terror. Israel will continue to monitor developments on the Palestinian side in general and regarding the establishment of a new government by Abu Mazen in particular. Defense Minister Mofaz underscored the security establishment’s readiness to ensure security during the Passover holiday. 2. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom briefed ministers on diplomatic issues stemming from the war in Iraq and noted that Israel is prepared for the post-war situation. 3. Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu briefed ministers on contacts with the Histadrut regarding the government’s economic recovery plan and on the detrimental effects of the recent strikes and sanctions. 4. In continuation of previous decisions, the Cabinet approved Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s proposal to adopt the recommendations on extending the assistance programs to the communities on the confrontation line in the north, including Kiryat Shemona. 5. The Cabinet decided to limit the maximum number of foreign workers in Israel (in all sectors except for nursing) for 2003 to the 2002 ceiling of 61,000 (30,000 in construction, 28,000 in agriculture and 3,000 in industry). The 2004 ceiling will be lowered to 48,000.