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Knesset Rejects Launching Inquiry into High-level Orders on Intifada

The Knesset turned down two motions Wednesday to investigate whether high political echelons were responsible for unlawful conduct by the military in suppressing the intifada.

The motions, introduced separately by Michael Eitan of Likud and Yossi Sarid of the Citizens Rights Movement, were struck from the agenda after Defense Minister Moshe Arens told the legislature they were not necessary.

The two members had proposed the establishment of a state commission to inquire into charges that the brutal behavior of Israel Defense Force soldiers toward Palestinian security offenders conformed with instructions from the defense minister.

The charges were leveled by Lt. Col. Yehuda Meir, former commander of IDF troops in Nablus, during testimony at his court-martial last month.

Meir is accused of ordering his men to tie up and break the bones of Palestinian detainees in Beita and Huwara villages, near Nablus, in January 1988, a month after the intifada began. He contended in court that orders for such conduct had come directly from Yitzhak Rabin, then the defense minister.

Rabin defended himself before the Knesset, saying he ordered beatings only as a riot-control measure, never as punishment after the rioters were subdued. He said that “to the best of my knowledge” he had never instructed security forces to “break the bones” of Arabs.

Arens argued there was no need for a formal inquiry, because “all the facts are known.” He said the political echelons are accountable to the Knesset and, on Election Day, to the public.

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