JERUSALEM (Dec. 28)
Avraham Sharir announced his resignation as Justice Minister Friday with a warning to Premier Yitzhak Shamir that the country’s legal system is in serious disarray and a complaint that he has been forced, unfairly, to bear the full burden of criticism in the case of William Nakash.
Sharir said his resignation was prompted mainly by the reaction to his refusal to extradite Nakash to France where he was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the 1983 murder of an Arab in the city of Besancon.
According to Sharir, he was bound to that decision by a promise made to Nakash’s supporters by his predecessor, former Justice Minister Yitzhak Modai, and other senior ministers.
Extradition of the Algerian-born, self-proclaimed Baal Tshuva was opposed by Orthodox and rightwing nationalist groups who formed a committee to pressure the authorities.
Sharir was castigated in legal circles and an appeal is now pending before the Supreme Court to overrule his decision.
SHARIR ACCEPTED PORTFOLIO TEMPORARILY
Sharir, a Likud Liberal who is also Minister of Tourism in the Labor-Likud unity coalition government, accepted the Justice portfolio temporarily when Modai resigned last August.
He told Shamir Friday that the poor state of the judiciary required a permanent appointee, especially in face of rising crime. He said the legal system is deteriorating and has reached its nadir.
Negotiations were under way among the coalition partners Sunday to find a replacement for Sharir. Transport Minister Haim Corfu, Likud-Herut, emerged as the candidate most acceptable to Likud and Labor. But so far he has shown no interest in heading the Justice Ministry.