Eyal Fisher
Margalit Har-Shefi, Archive Photo
Eyal Fisher
Livni: Not a matter of Right or Left
Photo: Ofer Amram
Schneller: No doubt as to who is guilty
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Margalit Har-Shefi to be exonerated?

Right, left-wing politicians in uproar over request to reverse conviction of Yigal Amir's accomplice

Fifteen years after Yigal Amir shot and killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, prominent religious figures have begun an ill-timed campaign to retroactively acquit Amir's girlfriend, who was charged with failing to report his intent to commit murder.


In a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, several rabbis and members of the Knesset quoted former Shin Bet officials Carmi Gillon and Ami Ayalon who expressed their belief that Har-Shefi, was not, in fact, aware of Amir's intention to kill Rabin.


Among those who signed the letter are Knesset Members Otniel Schneller of Kadima and Uri Ariel of the National Union, as well as Rabbis Yuval Sherlo and Yaakov Meidan.


"I am shocked by the idea," responded the slain prime minister's daughter, Dalia Rabin, who added that her reaction was not personal and she trusted the legal authorities to make the right decision.


Opposition chairwoman Tzipi Livni spoke to Rabin Friday morning and told her she rejected the initiative as well.


"As former Justice Minister, I oppose the involvement of members of the Knesset in legal proceedings of private citizens. Moreover, I see the involvement of politicians in this request as unfortunate, as it might turn over the discussion of the murder to the political arena, and it shouldn't be there," she said.


"The Rabin assassination is not a matter of his family or a political matter of his party, but rather that of the entire people. Even after the passing of years since the murder, we mustn't label it as an issue of Right or Left. We paid a hefty price for this in the past."


Chairman of the State Control Committee Yoel Hasson inveighed against the initiative. "It is forbidden to pardon and relieve the burden of anyone who was involved in the murder of Rabin," he said. 


"Anyone who takes part in furthering the goals of those who were involved in Rabin's murder turns himself into no less than a collaborator."


Hasson also criticized Schneller, also of Kadima. "I am saddened that MK Schneller, of his own accord, is taking part in the activities of this group, which separates itself from the Israeli concensus," he said. 


MK Schneller qualified his support after the publication of the initiative, saying he agreed only to a reexamination of the legal aspect of Har-Shefi's conviction. "From the public aspect, there shouldn't be compromises as to who is guilty in the murder of the prime minister," he said.  


'Shin Bet was looking for scapegoat'

But MK Zeev Elkin (Likud) unequivocally supported the campaign. "I believe Har-Shefi's conviction was the product of a witch hunt that took place at the time, the public desire for a victim because of the prime minister's death, and the will of the Shin Bet, which failed miserably, to find a scapegoat," he said.


"Now, 15 years later, it's clear that if we had known then what we know today Har-Shefi would not be convicted."


Elkin added that the timing was not in the least problematic. "It was intended to allow a full Israeli consensus of the assassination of the prime minister," he said, adding that the exoneration could help "remove the stain from the entire national camp".


Margalit Har-Shefi, then a 20-year-old student at the Bar Ilan Law Faculty, was convicted and sentenced to nine months in prison after testifying that she heard from her then-boyfriend Amir that he planned to assassinate the prime minister. She served half of her sentence before being pardoned by former President Moshe Katsav.


Weinstein decided to disqualify himself from presiding over the matter, as he was in touch with Har-Shefi's family in the past, when he was requested to represent her as a lawyer in the private sector. The case was transferred to State Prosecutor Moshe Lador.


Peace Now Secretary-General Yariv Oppenheimer called the initiative "a cynical campaign whose aim is to cover up the murder and pardon Yigal Amir in the future".


"The Right will not succeed in erasing its part in the incitement and violence that led to the assassination of a prime minister in Israel," Oppenheimer said, adding that he would appeal to the High Court of Justice against the request if it is accepted.


Roni Sofer, Aviad Glickman, and Yair Altman contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 10.15.10, 11:04
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