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Flurry Over Report Of Tipsy Party For Intelligence Chief

March 4, 1989

JERUSALEM (AP) _ A surprise birthday party for the chief of Israel’s intelligence agency has caused a flurry, with a reported reprimand from the prime minister and an allegation that top security service officials got drunk.

Parliament member Elie Ben-Menachem said he demanded an investigation of the party for the Shin Bet chief, whose name is kept secret. Ben-Menachem alleged the party could amount to a security breach.

The legislator said Friday that Arab waiters served the guests and ″at the end of the party some of the guests got drunk, among them senior Shin Bet officials.″

Ben-Menachem told The Associated Press he sent a telegram to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir demanding an investigation, particularly on the report that Arab waiters served the party.

″Since the identity of the Shin Bet head is secret, this, if proven true, could lead to a serious breach of security and to the exposure of his identity,″ Ben-Menachem of the left-leaning Labor Party wrote in the telegram.

Ben-Menachem said his information was based on a ″number of sources″ and that their reports were identical.

Shamir, a former agent for Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, reprimanded the Shin Bet chief for the party, the Hebrew daily Hadashot reported.

Despite the secrecy surrounding the security chief, Hadashot wrote, many ministers, legislators and reporters were invited to the surprise party to celebrate the Shin Bet chief’s 45th birthday. It was organized two weeks ago by the guest of honor’s longtime companion, a Jerusalem woman.

The weekly magazine Yerushalaim also gave a detailed description of the party.

″The Shin Bet head took his famous trumpet and gave them full five minutes, including the inevitable ’Summertime,‴ it reported. ″The party lasted from 9.30 p.m. till 3 in the morning.″

The party was held at the Israel Museum cafeteria.

Hadashot reported that Shamir, who was an agent in Europe during his 10 years in the Mossad, ″reacted with amazement and shock″ to media reports describing the party.

The prime minister’s office declined comment, saying in a statement that ″this is an issue between the prime minister and the Shin Bet.″

Yossi Sarid of the leftist Citizens Rights Movement said he did not feel the party was improper.

″I was invited to the party and went because he is a friend of mine,″ Sarid said. ″Nobody among the guests could cause any damage. They all knew who the Shin Bet head is.″

The party could prove damaging to the prestige of Shin Bet, which has been trying to rehabilitate itself since a 1987 judicial commission report saying agents had routinely perjured themselves in court since 1971.

The former Shin Bet chief, Avraham Shalom, resigned in 1986 over a scandal involving the fatal beating during interrogation of two Palestinian hijackers who seized an Israeli bus in April 1984. Shin Bet agents were shown to have made up evidence to conceal their role in the beating.