High-level connection to Jewish terrorism?
Allegations that leading military and political figures encouraged the creation of a Jewish terrorist network on the West Bank were taken up by the opposition Labor Party, which demanded a government investigation into the charges.
The allegations were made by Meir Indorf, a prominent member of Gush Emunim, the religious-nationalist movement that has been the driving force behind Jewish settlement in the occupied territories.
Mr. Indorf told reporters Monday that he was present when ''military and political figures from the highest ranks'' urged settlers to take action against the Palestine Liberation Organization on the West Bank. These leaders, said Indorf, explained that the state's hands were tied and urged partisan action as a proper response to PLO instigations of unrest in the West Bank.
The first action carried out by the underground was the car bombings four years ago which crippled two West Bank mayors. Indorf, whose brother is being sought as a suspect, said that the leaders continued to encourage the alleged terrorist group after that incident. Among the groups' other alleged acts was the killing of Arab university students in Hebron in retaliation for the killing of settlers.
This is the first time since the underground network was rounded up two months ago that allegations have been made of high-level connections.
Meanwhile, the identities of 22 alleged members of the underground who went on trial this week were revealed for the first time. Five others are being tried separately. The alleged leader of the network is Menahem Livni of Hebron, an engineer who is a battalion commander in the Army Reserves.
Most of the accused are in their 30s and 40s and all wear skull caps. The biographies that accompany the pictures of the men published in Israeli newspapers indicated that they were highly respected members of their communities.
Among them was a former Air Force squadron commander who was alleged to have proposed bombing Islamic shrines on the Temple Mount from the air as an apocalyptic action.
The suspects also include a Frenchman, Dan Beeri. Since his conversion from Roman Catholicism to Judaism 15 years ago, he had secured a firm place within Gush Emunim as a scholar and educator.