The Israeli Cabinet has decided to set up a full commission of inquiry into the Beirut massacre of several hundred Palestinians.
GV Prime Minister's office.
SV Prime Minister Begin arrives and enters building.
SCU Defence Minister Ariel Sharon arrives.
CU Cabinet spokesman Dan Meridor speaking. (English SOT).
CU Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir speaking. (English SOT).
TRANSCRIPT: MERIDOR: (SEQ 4) "The Cabinet decided today (September 28) at the Prime Minister's initiative to conduct a revision of its previous decision. The Cabinet today decided on the establishment of an inquiry commission in accordance with the Inquiries Commission Act of 1969. The matter, the very subject of inquiry, is all the facts and factors relating to the atrocities perpetrated by a unit of the Lebanese forces against the civilian populations in Shatila and Sabra camps."
SHAMIR: (SEQ 5) "The main test for Israel now will be to mobilise all our friends all over the world with this fight against the ugly campaign of slight directed against the state and the people of Israel with relation to the horrible crimes in the Palestinian camps in Beirut."
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Background: The Israeli Cabinet has decided to set up a full commission of inquiry into the Beirut massacre of several hundred Palestinians. After a special session in Jerusalem on September 28, Cabinet spokesman, Dan Meridor told reporters the inquiry would examine all facts and factors relating to the atrocities. He claimed the killings were carried out by units of the Lebanese forces against the civilian populations in the Shatila and Sabra camps. The commission, which is the most powerful body the government could appoint, will have power to subpoena witnesses and order testimony under oath. Prime Minister Menachem Begin had previously refused to set up an inquiry because he said it would be seen as an admission of Israeli involvement in the murder of the unarmed Palestinians. This refusal prompted the resignation of Energy Minister, Yitzhak Berman, and the threat by another two putting the coalition in jeopardy. A compromise proposal under which Mr. Begin asked the Chief Justice to head an investigation failed when he ruled that the affair was sub judice. Commenting immediately after the Cabinet decision, Foreign Minister, Yitzhak Shamir, said that Israel now had to mobilise its friends throughout the world and defend itself against the comments of those people who associated Israel with the massacre.