Israeli minister denies any conspiracy to kill Rabin

JERUSALEM — Israel's Internal Security Minister, Moshe Shahal, has rejected accusations of a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

During a Knesset session Thursday of last week, Shahal told MK Yosef Ba-Gad of the right-wing Moledet party his suspicions that confessed assassin Yigal Amir did not act alone are "the work of a fertile imagination," and told Ba-Gad to consider writing spy novels.

Shahal said none of Ba-Gad's contentions were based on fact. "They are fed by, and feed, the media," Shahal said. On the question of whether there was a conspiracy, Shahal replied, "There was no such thing."

Shahal, however, had earlier claimed there was such a conspiracy. On Nov. 9, he said: "We also believe that a group of people carefully prepared the ground to conspire to murder carefully chosen targets."

Two days later, he said Yigal Amir had tried to kill Rabin twice before. "But there [were] apparently additional attempts in which he and others, or others alone, tried to assassinate the prime minister."

On Nov. 22, Shahal said he had changed his mind and did not think there was a conspiracy to kill Rabin.

Ba-Gad also raised a series of questions, all of which had been previously asked in the media.

*Why had Avishai Raviv, leader of the extremist Eyal group who was arrested in connection with the murder and later revealed to be an informant for the Shin Bet, not told the domestic security agency of Amir's plans?

*Why didn't the Shin Bet act on tips that someone matching Amir's description was planning to kill Rabin?

*Why didn't wounded security man Yoram Rubin recognize Amir, who was a fellow Bar-Ilan University student?

*Why didn't the security guards respond with gunfire?

*Who shouted that the gun had "only dummy bullets"? (Police say it was Amir, to confuse security, but Amir claims it was a Rabin guard.)

*Who was behind the announcement to the media the night of the shooting that the assassination had been unsuccessful "this time"?

*Why was Leah Rabin told her husband had been shot with dummy bullets?

*What was behind the widespread story that a security guard had committed suicide or been killed and secretly buried?

Likud MK Ovadia Eli said these questions should be answered by a commission of inquiry, and not in the Knesset. Not one MK supported Ba-Gad's call for an in-depth discussion of the rumors.