Attorney General Yosef Harish has promised to announce Tuesday night how he intends to proceed with an investigation into charges that the head of Israel’s internal security services, Avraham Shalom, is guilty of obstructing justice.
It is not clear whether Harish has made a final decision as yet. Intense behind-the-scenes efforts were underway in the government Monday to devise a means of inquiry that would satisfy the need of the Attorney General to apply the law and of a majority of the Cabinet which fears a probe would endanger national security.
The agency Shalom heads, Shabak, also known as the Shin Bet, operates under tightest secrecy. The public identification of Shalom as its chief was in itself a breach of State security, though unavoidable in the circumstances.
JUDICIAL INGUIRY COMMISSION EXPECTED
Harish is widely expected to recommend a judicial commission of inquiry, headed by a Justice of the Supreme Court, to conduct an investigation within the bounds of the 1968 Commissions of Inquiry Law. Such a panel is required by law to conduct its business under a thick blanket of secrecy.
It would probably satisfy most Cabinet ministers. But Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir remains unequivocally opposed to any inquiry. Some sources said Monday he may cut short his present visit to France and return home to participate in the final round of talks between the ministers and Harish scheduled for Tuesday.
Shalom was accused by three former Shabak subordinates of ordering the killings of two Arab bus hijackers in custody of security agents in April, 1984 and later engaging in an elaborate cover-up when the unexplained deaths were investigated by Shabak’s internal court and two other quasi-judicial panels.
On the basis of those charges, former Attorney General Yitzhak Zamir claimed he had a prima facie case against Shalom and ordered a police investigation, though it was strongly opposed by the Cabinet. Some observers believe Zamir’s replacement by Harish on June I was the result of his zeal to pursue the case.
PERES MAY SEEK LESS FORMAL PANEL
Premier Shimon Peres, who forcefully opposed a police investigation, is believed ready to accept a secret judicial inquiry. Some sources said he may be urging Harish to recommend a less rigid and less formal panel than a judicial commission under the 1968 law.
Two other ministers who have backed a formal inquiry all along, are said to be urging Peres now to accept a different approach. Energy Minister Moshe Shahal of Labor and Communications Minister Amnon Rubinstein of the Shinui Party, have proposed that Shalom and three of his aides be asked to resign.
Once they did, the State could waive the need for further inquiry on grounds of the public interest. Shahal and Rubinstein would then have the government establish a study group to devise new rules of conduct for Shabak to apply in the future.
But as of Monday, Peres was said to be firmly opposed to firing Shalom. He could however be suspended pending the outcome of an inquiry, whatever form it might take.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.