Cabinet Defers Debate over Extradition of Israeli Jew to France to Face Imprisonment for Murder of a

The Cabinet Sunday deferred debate over a demand by Absorption Minister Yaacov Tsur to overturn Justice Minister Avraham Sharir’s decision last Thursday against the extradition to France of William Nakash, 25, sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the murder of an Arab in the town of Besancon in eastern France in 1983. The Supreme Court has upheld extradition.

A sharp exchange developed between the two ministers at the session. Premier Yitzhak Shamir ruled to postpone debate until after a three justice panel of the Supreme Court hears an appeal Tuesday against Sharir’s decision. The appeal was lodged by the Civil Rights Movement (CRM).

As a result of Sharir’s stand, Nakash, an Orthodox Jew, will go free. A law proposed in the Knesset that would allow Israelis sentenced abroad to serve their time in Israel has not yet been passed. Legal circles here object to the proposed measure on grounds that it would jeopardize Israel’s extradition treaties with other countries.

Sharir was under heavy pressure from nationalist and Orthodox circles in Israel to reject the French extradition request. They claimed the murder was an act of self-defense against anti-Semitic, anti-Israel acts by Arabs and therefore justified. The French court that convicted Nakash found that the murder stemmed from a quarrel between two business partners.

Another argument against extradition was that Nakash’s life would be endangered in a French prison where many of the inmates are Arab. Attorney General Yosef Harish, who has decried the failure to extradite Nakash, said Sunday that he would nevertheless do his duty as Attorney General and defend the Justice Minister before the Supreme Court “in accordance with normal procedures.”

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