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Justice Min. Lapid: I'll accept Or report as final ruling

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    Last Update: 01/09/2003 12:06 Justice Min. Lapid: I ll accept Or report as final ruling By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondent
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 1, 2003
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      Last Update: 01/09/2003 12:06

      Justice Min. Lapid: I'll accept Or report as final ruling

      By Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondent

      http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/335190.html

      Justice Minister Yosef (Tommy) Lapid said Monday
      morning that he would accept the findings of the
      Or Commission on the violent clashes of October
      2000 as a final ruling.


      The state commission of inquiry
      set up to investigate the
      clashes - in which 13 Arabs
      were killed inside Israel,
      apparently by police - will
      release its findings to the
      government on Monday
      afternoon.

      Lapid, who is also Shinui chairman, told Israel Radio that the report
      should not be seen as the beginning of a fresh
      debate. He dismissed criticism of the
      commission of inquiry, saying its establishment
      was crucial because the deaths of Arab citizens
      is a serious matter that must be investigated.

      Shinui MK Eliezer Sandberg was one of those who
      criticized the commission, calling it one of
      the most superfluous committees in Israel, Army
      Radio reported. Sandberg said it would cause
      police to hesitate when they should act by
      making them afraid the government could conduct
      an investigation into their behavior.

      Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Uzi
      Landau (Likud) told Israel Radio that the Or
      Commission shouldn`t have been formed in the
      first place becuase it was established due to
      the electoral considerations of former prime
      minister Ehud Barak. The Barak government
      established the panel in November 2000.

      The commission, headed by Supreme Court Justice
      Theodor Or, is expected to criticize figures
      who were part of Israel's political leadership
      at the time, including Barak.

      Senior police officers, past and present, are
      also likely to be criticized in the report, as
      are public figures from Israel's Arab sector.

      The commission's three members - Or, Judge
      Hashim Khatib and Professor Shimon Shamir -
      have all endorsed and signed the report's
      conclusions.

      The violence erupted on October 1, 2000 -
      together with the outbreak of the intifada in
      the territories - in dozens of localities in
      northern Israel.

      When it ended, 13 Arabs were dead: 12 citizens
      of Israel and a Palestinian from Dir al-Balah.
      In addition, a Jewish Israeli man was killed by
      a thrown rock, and hundreds of citizens and
      policemen were injured.

      The panel members have based their findings on
      testimony furnished by dozens of witnesses, and
      its report is hundreds of pages long.

      The report is to be submitted to the government
      Monday afternoon. Copies will also be given to
      the attorneys of the 14 public figures who were
      warned that the commission's findings could
      implicate them and to the families of those
      killed in the clashes. It will be released to
      the media and public after all those people
      receive the report.

      The commission's work and findings have stirred
      considerable international interest, and
      foreign journalists were briefed Sunday by the
      panel.

      About half an hour after the report is released
      to the public, leaders of the Arab sector will
      hold a press conference in Jerusalem.

      Also participating in the press conference will
      be members of the bereaved families and
      attorneys from Adalah, the Legal Center for
      Arab Minority Rights in Israel, who represented
      the families during the commission hearings,
      and also the three Arab public figures who were
      warned that the report's findings could be
      damaging to them.

      Police officers and spokesmen will also hold a
      press conference Monday afternoon.

      The main question probed by the Or panel was how
      it came to pass that policemen fatally shot 13
      people inside Israel and injured hundreds of
      others in what was essentially a mass violent
      uprising, which was totally unexpected and for
      which Israel's security services were
      unprepared.

      But the panel also looked at the issue from
      another angle, investigating why citizens of
      the state staged the most violent
      demonstrations ever witnessed within Israel,
      attacking policemen and Jewish citizens and
      effacing symbols of Israeli authority in Arab
      villages.

      In an interim summary of its work, released in
      February 2002, the commission warned 14 public
      figures - most of whom are no longer in public
      service - that its findings could possibly
      implicate them. From the political leadership,
      both Barak and then public security minister
      Shlomo Ben-Ami were warned.

      Three Arab leaders were also warned, mostly on
      account of the role they may have played in
      agitating Arab crowds. These were MK Abdulmalik
      Dehamshe (United Arab List), MK Azmi Bishara
      (Balad) and the leader of the northern branch
      of the Islamic Movement, Sheikh Raad Salah.

      The majority of the people who received warning
      letters, however, were Israeli policeman,
      including then police commissioner Yehuda Wilk
      and then commander of the police's northern
      district, Major General Alik Ron.

      Israel's police force is prepared for a harsh
      report whose criticism could focus on the
      measures they used to control unruly crowds.

      One specific recommendation that the commission
      is expected to make is the imposition of severe
      restrictions, if not an outright ban, on the
      use of rubber-coated bullets to disperse
      demonstrators.
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