JERUSALEM (May. 6)
Minister-Without-Portfolio Ezer Weizman is under heavy fire from Likud for allegedly having leaked classified government material to a friend of his, New York attorney and writer Leon Charney, during the Israel-Egyptian peace negotiations nearly 10 years ago when Weizman was Defense Minister in the Likud-led government of Premier Menachem Begin.
Likud Knesset activists, apparently backed by their party leader, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, are demanding an investigation. Today, the rightwing opposition Tehiya Party filed a motion of non-confidence in the Labor-Likud national unity government over the matter.
The storm over Weizman arose from Charney’s book, “Special Counsel”, published eight months ago. It came to attention here last week in an article by Haaretz correspondent Dan Margalit implying that Charney had received from Weizman information on secret Cabinet policy deliberations during the peace talks.
According to the allegations, the information reached the Carter Administration through Robert Lipshutz, President Carter’s White House Counsellor, who is a friend of Charney.
WRITER CLAIMS HE WAS MISQUOTED
Charney, reached in New York, said the Haaretz article misquoted his book and took parts of it out of context. He said he did not name or intend any reference to Weizman but, indeed, to another Likud Cabinet minister. Charney told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he had good relations with Weizman but also with Premier Begin and other ranking Likud politicians.
Despite Charney’s denial, Likud MK Michael Dekel formally asked Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir to open an investigation into the relationship between Weizman and Charney. Shamir said he too favored an investigation.
“After reading the book, I am under the impression that there is material to be investigated,” he said.
Jerusalem Post correspondent Mark Segal, who collaborated with Charney on the book, was quoted today as having been told by Charney last night, “I was never privy to inner deliberations of (Israeli) Cabinet meetings” and that “the particular information mentioned by Margalit came from another Likud source, not Weizman.”
Weizman himself has refused to be drawn into the fray, referring his critics to Charney. But associates of Weizman suggested today that Likud was “out to get him” because having quit that party years ago, he is now a close associate of Laborite Premier Shimon Peres and an increasingly popular figure among Israelis.
Peres, for his part, said yesterday that he has full confidence in Weizman and supports him in the controversy.