JERUSALEM (Mar. 14)
At the initiative of Premier Menachem Begin, the Cabinet resolved today to set up an official commission of inquiry headed by a judge to investigate the murder, 49 years ago, of Mapai (Labor) leader Haim Arlosoroff who was found dead on a Tel Aviv beach in 1933.
The decision followed a revived controversy over the murder, triggered by the publication of a book by a leading Israeli historian, Shabtai Tevet, which appeared to cast doubt on the acquittal of two young Revisionists, Avraham Stavsky and Zvi Rosenblatt, who were originally arrested for the murder.
In an extraordinary move, Begin ordered the full transcript of the Cabinet’s two-hour discussion of the matter made public. Cabinet sources said it contained a lengthy speech by Begin and reminiscences by many Herut ministers of how they or their families were harassed by Mapai in the years following the murder.
The crime deepened the bitterness between the then Labor majority and the Revisionist movement in Palestine and among the Zionists in the diaspora in the 1930’s.
CERTAIN TO SPARK DEBATE
Some observers believe Begin wants to fan the flames of the old controversy at this time to focus local media attention away from the withdrawal from Sinai next month. The Cabinet decision is certain to touch off a wave of press and public comments and arguments.
Under the 1958 Commissions of Iniquity Law, the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Moshe Landau, must choose a serving or retired senior judge to head the commission and two other persons, including at least one respected layman, to be members. The commission has powers of subpoena — with arrest and imprisonment to back them up — like a regular court of law.
Interior Minister Yosef Burg, of the National Religious Party, and Minister-Without-Portfolio Yitzhak Modai, of Likud’s Liberal Party wing, dissociated themselves from the Cabinet’s decision to revive the Arlosoroff case. Burg warned that the commission would create divisions in the nation at a time when national unity was urgently needed.