Israel Ministerial Probe Begun into ‘shameful Affair’ of 1954

A Ministerial committee of seven Cabinet members began today a study of the 1954 security incident which led to the forced resignation of Pinhas Lavon, secretary-general of the Histadrut, as Minister of Defense.

The committee, which is headed by Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen, was given documents hitherto classified as top secret, as well as a full report of the investigation by the committee headed by Supreme Justice Haim Cohn. The Cohn commission was named by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion after testimony at a civil trial several months ago indicated the possibility that forged documents and perjured testimony had been involved in the first investigation of the security incident. Neither investigation report has ever been made public.

Statements by Moshe Sharett, who had been Prime Minister in 1954, which were included in the opinion of Attorney General Gideon Hausner of the Cohen commission report, were publicly accepted by Lavon as clearing him of responsibility for the incident which apparently involved an action by the Israel Government.

The furore continued after Lavon’s statement last week that he regarded himself as vindicated and Ben-Gurion, after insisting that a further investigation be handled by a judicial committee, yielded to party demands for a Ministerial probe.

The Ministerial committee has the task, it was indicated, of determining who was responsible for the order for the action which the Prime Minister has described as a “shameful affair.”

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