JERUSALEM (Jun. 17)
Attorney General Yosef Harish told the Knesset’s Interior Committee Tuesday that there would be “no whitewash” in the case he is now studying involving charges of obstruction of justice against Avraham Shalom, head of Shabak, Israel’s internal security agency commonly known as the Shin Bet.
But Harish, in his first appearance before the Knesset body since taking office two weeks ago, appeared to be responding to a warning by his predecessor, former Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir, when he said “There will be no whitewash and thus there will be no need for anyone to apply to the High Court for justice.”
Zamir created a new furor this week when he elaborated his charges against Shalom and warned if there is a “whitewash,” somebody, presumably himself, would appeal to the Supreme Court for justice.
Zamir had been determined to prosecute Shalom despite almost unanimous opposition by the Cabinet and had gone so far as to order a police investigation. According to some observers, that was the main reason he was replaced by Harish, although he had been planning for some time to resign.
REMARKS TO PANEL ARE CRYPTICAL
Harish repeated Tuesday that he would complete his study of the Shalom case this week and consult with Premier Shimon Peres and Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir early next week — and presumably make recommendations. But some of his remarks to the Knesset panel were cryptical.
He spoke of a “theoretical possibility” that there would be no investigation but offered no explanation. There would be “no compromising,” he said, adding that “compromise is not a suitable concept in this connection.” He maintained that his sole concern is to fuse two overriding interests — the rule of law and State security. “This is what guides me,” Harish told the Knesset committee.
The allegations against Shalom stem from the unexplained deaths of two Arab bus hijackers who were captured by the Israel Defense Force in the Gaza Strip in April, 1984 and turned over to security agents for interrogation. They were dead before they could be transferred to jail.
According to newly published charges attributed to “a senior source close to the Shin Bet affair, “the two Palestinians were “lynched” on the orders of Shalom. Zamir acknowledged Tuesday that he was the “senior source” and that he had made his remarks to legal affairs reporters Monday.
Likud MK Ehud Olmert charged in the Knesset that Zamir committed a serious breach of security and urged Premier Peres to caution him against disclosing State secrets to which he was privy while he held office.
Harish too contended that talk of a “lynch” had done serious harm to the interests of the State. He did not refer directly to Zamir. Zamir told the legal reporters, among other things, that there is strong prima facie evidence that Shin Bet operatives involved in the affair lied and perjured themselves before a special Shin Bet disciplinary tribunal headed by a District Court judge.
Zamir also contended that three disaffected Shin Bet operatives who, through intermediaries, first brought the case to his attention, now “live in fear.”