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Israel's inquiry

Self-correction under due process of law is a precious asset of democracy, as Israel is reminding the world in the case of the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Beirut.

Under strong public outcry a commission of inquiry was designated to look into the question of whether Israeli authorities should share responsibility for the tragedy, which took place when the city was supposed to be under Israel's control. Recently the commission, in accordance with Israeli law, warned nine senior political and military figures - beginning with Prime Minister Begin himself - that they might be harmed by the commission's findings.

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Disclosure of the warning caused political shock waves, something other democracies have experienced when investigations have reached to those in high places. But those named, including Defense Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shamir, have a stated period in which to offer further testimony or cross-examine other witnesses. Thus the facts have a chance for the fullest airing, and that is the beginning of justice.

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