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Israel's Sharon Fires Cabinet Minister Accused in Scandal - 2004-07-11

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has fired his national infrastructure minister, Yosef Paritzky. The dismissal follows media reports of Mr. Paritzky's alleged attempts to frame other Cabinet ministers on charges of corruption.

Mr. Sharon fired Mr. Paritzky on Sunday, four days after he was caught on tape allegedly trying to frame a Cabinet colleague from his secular Shinui Party.

Mr. Paritzky was accused on Israel television of attempting to ruin the career of Israel's interior minister, Avraham Poraz, in primary elections among the Shinui's parliamentary faction two years ago.

Tapes played on the broadcast report disclosed Mr. Paritzky allegedly talking with a private investigator, urging him to destroy Mr. Poraz's public reputation.

In further broadcasts, more tapes were aired claiming that Mr. Paritzky tried to incriminate other Cabinet colleagues.

Mr. Paritzky appeared on television asking for forgiveness.

But he also told Prime Minister Sharon that his actions were, in his words, not criminal and not corrupt and that they occurred as part of a political dispute within his party.

Shinui Party leader Yosef Lapid, who is also the justice minister, called on his Cabinet colleague to take the proper conclusions and realize he is no longer wanted by the faction or the parliament.

Pressure is expected to grow on Mr. Paritzky to leave politics, after Israel's attorney-general, Menachem Mazuz, announced he intended to investigate the affair.