JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
Prime Minister Shimon Peres is under pressure from within his own party to fire the two legal advisers of the Shin Bet security service who received Presidential pardons in the Shin Bet affair.
The two men’s continued service has caused a breakdown in the formerly — and necessarily–close working relationship between the service and the state prosecutors.
Many of the latter argue that although technically the Presidential pardons wipe out the two men’s crime, in practice the fact remains that the two played a key role in an elaborate and sustained perversion of justice, involving perjury, suborning witnesses, and forgery.
Labor Party Ministers and members of Knesset are urging the Premier to fire the two, but Peres so far has said he will leave the matter to the new head of Shin Bet (whose identity may not be disclosed).
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mordechai Gur (Labor Party) confirmed Wednesday on the Knesset podium that he would not serve in the Cabinet after Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir takes over the Premiership from Peres in a rotation agreed to by the national unity government because of what Gur insists is Shamir’s involvement in the Shin Bet affair. Shamir was Premier at the time of the 1984 bus hijacking that ended in the storming of the vehicle by Israeli soldiers and the subsequent beating deaths of two of the four Palestinian hijackers by Shin Bet agents. The killings and subsequent coverup have come to be called the Shin Bet affair.
Gur said his decision was “a matter of normative standards.”
Shamir himself, and his aides, are refusing to disclose whether or when Shamir has been or will be questioned by the police chief superintendent, David Kraus, concerning the Shin Bet affair. According to some media reports, Kraus and Shamir have already had one meeting and have scheduled a second one.
Newspaper reports Thursday cited former Shin Bet chief Avraham Shalom, who has been pardoned by President Chaim Herzog for his role in the affair, as still insisting that he had operated under clear instructions and approval from Shamir. Shalom was said to be determined that Shamir “not get away scot free while my career has been ruined.”