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Secret Papers Clear Sharon in Massacre, Israeli Says

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Associated Press

Secret papers contain no evidence to show that former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon discussed the need for revenge with Christian Falangists who were blamed for the 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Beirut, an Israeli ex-chief justice said in material released today.

A Justice Ministry statement distributed by the government press office said a secret annex and other documents were reviewed by Yitzhak Kahan, the former Supreme Court president who headed an inquiry commission into the massacre, by Sharon’s lawyer, Dov Weisglass, and Chaim Zadok, an attorney for Time magazine.

The secret documents are expected to play a role in determining the outcome of Sharon’s $50-million libel suit against the magazine. The trial was scheduled to resume in U.S. District Court in New York on Tuesday.

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Time reported that in a conversation with the family of Lebanese Christian President Amin Gemayel on Sept. 15, 1982, Sharon reportedly discussed the need to avenge the killing of former Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel, who was Amin’s brother.

According to Time, the conversation took place the day before Israeli-allied Christian Falangist militiamen carried out the massacre in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps, and it said information on the conversation was in the secret parts of the report on the massacre issued by the Kahan Commission.

“In none of the documents or testimony is there any evidence or a suggestion that Minister Sharon had a discussion with the Gemayel family or with any other Falangist at Bikfaya or elsewhere in which Minister Sharon discussed the need to avenge the death of Bashir Gemayel,” Kahan said in the statement released today.

Kahan also said there is no mention in the documents of the possibility of the massacre of civilians if the Falangists were to enter the camp unaccompanied by Israeli troops.

Sharon, who is trade and industry minister in Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ Cabinet, left for New York today after a two-week visit to Israel during the court’s Christmas break.

He told reporters that he hoped the secret protocols “will help me prove, as I’ve always claimed, that Time lied. I hope this will teach them never again to dare libel me, the state of Israel or the Jewish people.”

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