New Israeli AG to decide on Sharon bribe claim


Israel's cabinet has appointed the man who could find himself responsible for removing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from office.

Mr Menachem Mazuz has been appointed attorney general today and his most difficult task is likely to be deciding on whether to indict Mr Sharon on bribery charges.

Prosecutors said last week they were considering action against the Prime Minister after charging Mr David Appel, a land developer and political patron, with trying to bribe the Likud Party leader.

A recommendation to indict Mr Sharon would bring public and cabinet pressure on him to resign. A Justice Ministry source said a decision on the issue was unlikely for months.

Mr Sharon did not participate in the 20-0 cabinet vote that approved Mr Mazuz to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

Mr Mazuz served as deputy attorney general for the past decade and replaces Mr Eliyakim Rubinstein, who held the job for seven years.

Mr Appel, a Likud stalwart, has denied all charges, which relate to a period in the 1990s when Mr Sharon was foreign minister. Mr Sharon has also denied any wrongdoing.