Labor Party Seeking Replacement for Justice Minister Who Resigned

Premier Golda Meir took over the Justice Ministry portfolio today as her Labor Alignment pondered the choice of a replacement for Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro who resigned Monday. According to Israeli law, the Prime Minister takes over Cabinet posts made vacant by resignations. Sources close to Mrs. Meir told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that she favored Haim Zadok, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, for the post. They indicated, however, that Mrs. Meir might not name a new Minister of Justice at least until after her return from the Socialist International meeting in Vienna next month.

According to sources here the delay is intentional–to allow the public furor over Shapiro’s resignation to subside and to give the Party leadership time to select a new minister with the proper judicial and political credentials. Zadok is one of the country’s top lawyers. He served briefly in the Cabinet as Minister of Trade and Industry several years ago but resigned over differences with Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir. Some circles expressed doubt that he would give up his thriving practice to enter the government.

Shapiro, who had become a controversial figure as a result of the Netivei Neft hearings, told the Knesset yesterday that he resigned because of “an incessant and unbearable stream of personal denigration and suspicions.” (See special analysis on page 4).

Political sources here said the government could name an interim Justice Minister to serve until the national elections next year or could fill Shapiro’s seat by reshuffling the Cabinet. They recalled that when Justice Minister Pinhas Rosen resigned nearly 20 years ago, the Cabinet appointed the then Attorney General Haim Cohen to serve until elections, after which he returned to his former post.

Such a course is ruled out at the present time because the incumbent Attorney General is known to have leanings toward the Herut opposition party, although his professional qualifications are not questioned. Another possible candidate mentioned is Gideon Hausner, of the Independent Liberal party, a coalition partner. Hausner is the former Attorney General who prosecuted Adolf Eichmann.

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