JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
Amnon Kapelyuk, the Israeli journalist who covered the Palestinian National Council meeting in Amman last month, will not stand trial, Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir said.
He said that considering the circumstances of Kapelyuk’s trip, and after consultations with the defense establishment and the police, he concluded hat the journalist had not compromised State security. He warned Kapelyuk, however, that crossing the border into an enemy country was an offense that could call for legal proceedings.
Zamir’s ruling was attacked by rightwing Knesset members who want Kapelyuk punished for attending a meeting convened by Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat.
Zamir said his investigation disclosed that Kapelyuk had contacted senior persons in the defense establishment before his departure for Jordan and informed them of his intended trip. He also said he would try to use his contacts in Jordan to obtain documents that might assist Israel in dealing with missing soldiers and prisoners of war in enemy hands.
Meanwhile, several members of the Knesset’s House Committee have demanded that MKs Matityahu Peled and Mohammad Miari of the Progressive List for Peace be stripped of their immunity so that they can be brought to trial for meeting Arafat in Tunis. Likud MK Michael Eitan charged that Zamir’s “lenient” policy encouraged such contacts with the enemy.
Zamir retorted that he was being used for political ends and warned that this menaced the role of law in Israeli society. Peled, a reserve general, defended his meeting with Arafat. He said it did not imperil the State but was intended to improve prospects for peace. Peled noted that he and other prominent Israelis have met with PLO officials abroad in past years and no legal action was ever brought against them.
Zamir told the committee members, “I will not be dragged into a political controversy. I serve the law and only the law.” With respect to Peled and Miari, he noted that the police are investigating the case at his request to determine whether there was an intent to harm State security and if State secrets were exposed. Only if those two violations are proven can the meeting with Arafat be considered a criminal offense, he said.
Likud and Tehiya MKs said if the Attorney General takes no steps, they would introduce an amendment to the law making contacts with hostile elements a criminal offense unless authorized by the proper officials.