JERUSALEM (May. 26)
Premier Shimon Peres was preparing to convene a meeting of senior Ministers Monday night in connection with Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir’s apparent intention to proceed with the investigation of a “senior official” implicated, according to Zamir, in an affair that endangered the rule of law and democracy in Israel.
The matter erupted over the weekend into a public scandal amid reports that Zamir was being forced to quash the investigation under heavy pressure from certain senior ministers. Peres conceded at the weekly Cabinet meeting Sunday that there was indeed a “legitimate controversy.”
Although not identified by the government or Zamir, the “senior official” under investigation is reported to be Avraham Shalom, head of Shabak, Israel’s internal security service commonly known as Shin Bet. According to press accounts Monday, Zamir has evidence that Shabak disrupted the work of a commission of inquiry into the deaths of two Arab terrorists who hijacked an Egged bus near the Gaza Strip two years ago and were allegedly beaten to death by Israeli security men who intercepted them.
The press reports said the disruption consisted of concealing facts, blurring evidence and persuading witnesses to lie. Evidence was brought to the attention of Zamir, the press accounts said, by three of the official’s subordinates whom he forced to resign from the service.
Zamir sent a message to the Knesset’s Law Committee on the matter stating that the central consideration in this affair is not security but the basic values of the State. Committee chairman Eli Koulas, a Likud MK, indicated he agreed with the Attorney General. He said the committee has invited Peres and Zamir to inform it of the facts in the case.