Israeli Housing Minister Abraham Ofer, who committed suicide Monday, was buried yesterday after a state funeral in Tel Aviv as police disclosed that many of the allegations of corruption leveled against him has been found to be groundless.
Ofer, 54, shot kimself after leaving a note denying allegaitons in the Israeli press that he was involved in major financial misdealings when he headed a large construction company before he entered government.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told mourners at the funeral that Ofer had appealed to him on Sunday, saying "Believe me, I am innocent." Rabin said he replied, "I believe you." Rabin described Ofer's death as "a shocking lesson and a warning never to judge others without trial."
Israeli police said today that 27 of 32 specific allegations made against Ofer had proven groundless and the remaining five required further investigation.
Meanwhile, parliamentary pressure grew for a change in libel laws that, proponents said, would give Israeli greater protection against press accusations. But an opposition member of Parliament, Ehud Olmert, argued that the present law was adequate. "Powerful political figures are not helpless," Olmert said.
The funeral overshadowed a Parliament vote that officially set Israeli's general elections for May 17. The vote also confirmed Rabin as head of a caretaker Cabinet.
In other Middle east developments:
In a dispatch filed from Cyprus to avoid Lebanese government censorship, it was reported that Lebanese Christian leader Camille Chamoun warned that his rightist forces would "resume fighting" if a qave of bombings and shooting in Christian ares continued.
Palestine Liberations Organizaiton spokesman Abdel Mohsen Abu Maizer said in Damascus that the PLO has no intention of setting up a government-in-exile despite official Arab encouragement.
Official sources in Kuwait said that foreign ministers of Arab frontline states opposing Israel and those that give them financial support will meet in Saudi Arabia Monday.
French Defense Minister Yvon Bourges, in Cairo on a five-day official visit, began talks with Egyptian War Minister Abdel Ghani Gamassi on arms Egypt wants from France, well-informed sources said.
WAFA, the Palestinians news agency, said Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in a massage to PLO leader Yasser Arafat had reaffirmed the Soviet Union's support for the Arab struggle to achieve "a just Middle East solution."