JERUSALEM (Aug. 30)
Former Justice Minister Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro, who resigned amid controversy on June 11, confirmed today that he would return to the Cabinet in the same post. He was apparently asked to return by Premier Golda Meir who has filled the Justice Ministry post herself for the past two months.
Shapiro, 69, is a close confidant of Mrs. Meir. He left her government during a bitter public controversy over allegedly excessive fees authorized by his ministry for lawyers involved in an inquiry earlier this year into the operations of the Netivei Neft oil company. Shapiro claimed that elements of the Achdut Avodah, a Labor Party faction, had conspired to bring about his downfall.
Shapiro’s announcement that he would return to the Cabinet came as a surprise. Speculation arose only yesterday that the Justice Minister portfolio would be given to Haim Zadok, chairman of the powerful Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and one of Israel’s most prominent lawyers. Observers here said that in urging Shapiro to return, Mrs. Meir would be bucking strong public opinion but was apparently willing to do so rather than lost Shapiro’s services permanently.