JERUSALEM (Sep. 11)
A five-member Supreme Court panel today unanimously upheld a government order to expel Meyer Lansky, reputed US gangland boss, who had sought refuge in Israel under the Law of Return. The Court ruled that the Interior Ministry had ample grounds to support its decision that Lansky had “a criminal past likely to endanger the public welfare.” The Court rendered its decision after studying the complete dossier on Lansky provided by US authorities. There was no indication today when Lansky must leave Israel.
The rejection of Lansky’s appeal against the government’s decision may not, however, result in his deportation to the US where he is wanted on criminal charges. The government announced some time ago that it would furnish Lansky with a laissez passer to any country willing to admit him. US authorities have revoked his passport and without a laissez passer his eviction from Israel would be tantamount to deportation.
The alleged underworld czar, who is 70, came to Israel in 1970 on a tourist visa. When the government refused to renew the visa last year, Lansky applied for citizenship under the Law of Return. But the law makes exceptions in the case of people with criminal records who are likely to endanger the public welfare.
That exception was applied in an 83-page judgement prepared by Justice Shimon Agranat, President of the Supreme Court, and concurred in by the other four justices sitting on the case. Lansky’s appeal against eviction was heard by the Supreme Court last May and June. Lansky was present in the court today and appeared disquieted by the ruling. The Court ordered him to pay $500 in costs. Justice Agranat praised Lansky’s counsel, Yoram Alroi of Tel Aviv for his pleading on behalf of his client but added that the lawyer was “fighting a lost cause.”