JERUSALEM (Jan. 23)
The police have opened an inquiry into Ezer Weizman’s alleged contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The investigation was ordered Tuesday by Attorney General Yosef Harish, after consultations with Justice Minister Dan Meridor of Likud.
According to police sources, the outgoing inspector general of police, David Kraus, will be in charge of the inquiry, which will determine whether the Laborite Cabinet minister should be prosecuted.
The sources said the investigation would be short, inasmuch as most of the material already is in police hands.
Weizman, who is reported to have hired a Tel Aviv attorney to represent him, was summarily fired from the Cabinet by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Dec. 31.
To avoid a looming Likud-Labor coalition crisis, he was allowed to retain his portfolio as minister of science and development. Shamir has made clear, however, that he wants him eventually out of the government.
Weizman was forced to resign from the 12-member Inner Cabinet of senior ministers, the government’s top policy-making body. But he was allowed to remain in the full Cabinet.
Shamir accused Weizman of undermining Israel’s negotiating position by advising the PLO what diplomatic strategy to use in dealing with Israel and the United States.
Weizman has denied the charges, though he has publicly advocated that Israel negotiate with the PLO.
IMMUNITY COULD BE STRIPPED
Legal experts believe Weizman will be shielded from court proceedings by his parliamentary immunity.
But Harish has indicated he would seek to strip him of it. The attorney general is prepared to argue before the Knesset House Committee that the immunity law cannot apply to such blatant acts of defiance as Weizman allegedly committed.
But the full Knesset ultimately will have to decide whether to lift a member’s immunity.
Weizman, 65, entered polities as a hawk, managing Likud’s successful 1977 election campaign, which ended more than 30 years of Labor Party rule. Prime Minister Menachem Begin rewarded Weizman by naming him defense minister.
The Egyptian peace breakthrough, however, deeply affected Weizman’s political outlook.
Gradually, he became disillusioned with Begin’s response and with what he considered the waste of a historic opportunity to achieve a comprehensive peace settlement in the region, following the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty.
As a Knesset member, Weizman maintains close contacts with leading international states-men, including key figures in the Arab world.
Legal experts say he could defend his contacts with PLO officials on grounds that he was acting in accord with his political and parliamentary duties as he saw them.