Rabin Murder Still Haunts Shin Beit Secret Service
On the day the late Yitzhak Rabin’s daughter was named deputy defense minister, a Jerusalem magistrate issued a 103-page decision that gave weight to some of the wildest conspiracy theories surrounding the late prime minister’s assassination on Nov. 4, 1995. Justice Shulamit Dotan partially acceded to a request from Shin Bet agent Avishai Raviv, who is on trial for neglecting to alert his superiors to the right-wing extremist Yigael Amir’s assassination plot.
Amir is serving a life sentence for the murder. Raviv, the Shin Beit undercover agent indicted in April 1999, asked to have his trial, due to open in a fortnight, postponed to give him a time to study the Shin Beit files on his and his fellow agents’ covert assignments among Israeli right wing fringe groups. Judge Dotan partially granted his request for access to Shin Beit materials and postponed his trial to June.
This decision is a major victory for the indicted agent, who was formerly denied access to files because the Shin Beit insisted they were irrelevant to his case. It also carries politically explosive potential.
Dalia Rabin-Pelosof was the only member of the Rabin family and of her own left-of-center political camp to come forward two years ago and note the many unanswered questions surrounding the Rabin murder after the conviction of the two Amir brothers. Her comment fueled the conspiracy theories abounding since the crime. No one doubted that Amir had pulled the trigger of the gun that shot the Israeli prime minister two years after he signed the 1993 Oslo peace accords. But many wondered out loud if he acted alone. And if not, who sent or programmed him for the slaying? And if there was a conspiracy, what was the motive behind it?
One of the newest theories claims the late Rabin was murdered to prevent him signing a nuclear disarmament agreement in the framework of final peace treaties with the Palestinians and the Arab world, in order to align himself with the Clinton presidency’s primary objective of denuclearizing the Middle East and Persian Gulf.
That initiative, like most of Clinton’s foreign policy initiatives, whether in the Balkans. Ireland, or the Middle East-Gulf, achieved the opposite effect to the one intended. However, what concerned Justice Dotan was not the big picture behind the assassination conspiracy but how it worked. Her lengthy decision reveals that the Shin Beit withdrew its support from Raviv after he decided to blow the whistle and save himself from the long prison sentence he could expect for abetting by his silence in the murder of a prime minister.
He accordingly revealed the dense secret service penetration of the Israeli right wing fringes and the West Bank and Gaza Strip settlement communities, and claimed that those agents must have known all about Yigael Amirs’ plan to murder Yitzhak Rabin.
This is the first direct evidence that Amir was constantly under the eyes of undercover agents, meaning that the Shin Beit though fully alive to Amir’s threat to Rabin, failed to act on their agents’ warnings and abort the killing.
This is a grave charge to bring against a service whose job its is to guard the prime minister and cannot pass without explanation. More “double” agents like Raviv may have to be exposed to get to the bottom of the lapse. Some may cooperate in the inquiry, but others may go to ground.
By her decision, the judge turned down the opinion delivered by the state attorney on behalf of Shin Beit director Avi Dichter that the files called for by the accused agent was intelligence data gathered by the Shin Beit and therefore irrelevant as investigative material in the Raviv case. She ordered those secret files to be presented to court and Raviv allowed to examine them in part within 20 days as legitimate investigative evidence in his case.
Exposure of those files in court, even in camera, will have explosive consequences that could reach up to the highest political echelons. They include a list of the agents maintained by the Shin Beit in the West Bank settlements in 1995 for the purpose of reporting on right wing extremist violence against Jews and public figures, data recorded in the Shin Beit files on the Amir brothers including details of the investigation against them, data from the personal files of additional Shin Beit agents working in the right wing extremist sector and the parts of his own dossier he had never been allowed to access.
The judge also ordered an authoritative letter to be forthcoming from a Shin Beit officer specifying which procedure was applied for the destruction of manuscript drafts of printed documents in Raviv’s file.
Raviv claimed that someone in the Shin Bet had hacked into his personal dossier in the Shin Beit computer and altered its contents.