Ministers voted during Sunday's cabinet meeting to extradite four Jordanian prisoners serving life sentences in Israel to Jordan The prisoners had been convicted of murdering Capt. Yehud Lipshitz and Staff-Sgt. Pinhas Levi in two separate incidents in the Jordan Valley 17 years ago. The mother of Pinhas Levy has appealed to the High Court of Justice in a bid to stop the transfer, claiming that the decision is both illegal and unethical, Israel Radio reported.
Gov't to form panel on freeing 250 prisoners
Also during the cabinet meeting, Olmert praised the new Palestinian Authority government for its decision to ban the carrying of weapons, and its decision to invalidate the passports of Hamas members who served in the previous PA government.
"These steps, along with economic steps, slowly and carefully help pave the way for coordination between us and them, and without a doubt will allow for the progress in the diplomatic process," Olmert said, but noted that "the war on terror continues and will not stop. Let there be no doubt, the kind of operation yesterday in which seven terrorists died will continue everywhere, in the South and in other areas."
Olmert also announced that the state will finance visits made overseas by families of kidnapped soldiers to meet with foreign diplomats.
To date, families of captured troops have been paying for trips to round up support for the release of their loved ones independently or through donations from non-government organizations.
This week's cabinet meeting was also noteworthy as it was the last one to be attended by Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon.
Maimon, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's closest advisers, was appointed cabinet secretary by Ariel Sharon in March 2003. He announced his intention to resign last year, but delayed the date twice at Olmert's request. This time, however, he has made clear he intends to leave his influential post to return to the private sector.
Dan Izenberg and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.