Israel may release assassination report

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JERUSALEM — Excerpts from the classified section of a government report on the Rabin assassination may soon be released.

The move, recommended by a team appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is aimed at dispelling public speculation regarding conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin two years ago.

The Shamgar Commission, which prepared the report on the assassination, concluded that there was no conspiracy involved. At the same time, a classified section of the report dealt with attempts by the Shin Bet to infiltrate the extremist right wing.

Rabin was killed on Nov. 4, 1995 by a right-wing religious student, Yigal Amir, who later confessed to the murder. Amir is serving a life sentence in prison.

The conspiracy theorists were given new fuel this week after Carmi Gillon, who headed the Shin Bet in November 1995, confirmed that Avishai Raviv, a right-wing activist who knew Amir, had been an agent for the domestic security service for eight years.

Among the conspiracy theories that began to circulate after the assassination was the claim that Raviv had been used by the Shin Bet to stir up sentiment against the right wing, which opposed Rabin's peace policies.

After the assassination, Raviv denied that he had worked for the Shin Bet.

Raviv was reportedly involved in distributing posters of Rabin in a Nazi uniform at a right-wing protest about a month before the assassination. That was the sort of inflammatory gesture some have claimed created the atmosphere leading to Rabin's murder.

In an Israel Television interview last Friday, Gillon described Raviv as a "problematic agent." At the same time, he stressed that had Raviv known Amir was plotting to assassinate Rabin, he would have conveyed the information to his operators.

Last week, Meir Shamgar, a former Supreme Court president, said the government was free to publish classified materials submitted to his commission, a move he said would help dispel the renewed speculation about a conspiracy.

The team appointed by the prime minister, which was made up of government and security officials, recommended that the classified sections of the report pertaining to Raviv's activities be made public.

The classified section of the Shamgar report was made available to Cabinet ministers last week. Science Minister Michael Eitan demanded that Raviv be put on trial for instigating the violent political atmosphere that preceded Rabin's assassination.

Israeli media reported this week that a majority of the ministers were believed to support releasing excerpts from the secret section. A Cabinet decision on publication must still be approved by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the media reported.