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Cabinet Approves Government Bill to Bar Extradition of Israeli Citizens Charged with Crimes Abroad

The Cabinet approved yesterday a government-sponsored bill that would bar the extradition of Israeli citizens charged with crimes abroad. The measure, drafted by Attorney General Aharon Barak on the instructions of Premier Menachem Begin, would provide for the trial of such offenders in Israel. If passed by the Knesset, it would amount to the abrogation of extradition treaties that Israel has with 22 nations.

The measure is controversial here. Under present law, Israeli courts are incompetent to try citizens for crimes committed in other countries. Several months ago, the Public Committee on Extradition Legislation, headed by District Court Judge Eli Nathan, recommended that extradition be continued, though only on the basis of reciprocity. Only one member of the committee dissented.

But the minority view was supported by Begin who countermanded an order by former Justice Minister Haim Zadok for Barak to draft a law in the spirit of the majority legislation. One immediate beneficiary of the new bill if it is adopted will be MK Samuel Flatto-Sharon, the millionaire businessman who fled to Israel from France in 1972 to avoid arrest on charges of tax evasion and fraud. France’s request for his extradition is now before the Israeli courts.