Ezra concerned about fate of anti-crime panel

With the threat of new elections, inter-ministerial anti-crime committee might be prematurely shut down.

With the threat of new elections in the air, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra began gearing up Monday for the possibility the inter-ministerial anti-crime committee he heads might be prematurely entering its closing stages. Endorsed by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ezra’s committee has, since its establishment over the summer, pooled together representatives from the Justice, Welfare and Education ministries to come up with an efficient work plan that would once and for all bring a decrease in the level of violence and crime in Israel. Ezra has announced on more than one occasion that his term as minister in charge of the Israel Police and the Prisons Service would ultimately be judged by the results of his committee. But with elections around the corner and the possibility the government would be dispersed in a no-confidence Knesset vote Wednesday, Ezra was perfectly aware his job might be coming to an end soon, sources close to him said Monday. Ezra’s office told The Jerusalem Post Monday that regardless of the minister’s political future, major advancements had already been made since the establishment of the anti-crime committee in June. New legislation has been drafted and is scheduled to be brought to the Knesset in the coming weeks. The establishment of a witness protection program has been agreed upon by the committee members, who are now arguing over whether it will be under the supervision of the Justice Ministry or the Internal Security Ministry. Ezra is also scheduled to hold budget talks with Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon later this week to find the funding for other initiatives, such as empowering municipal inspectors to make arrests like policemen. “If it is up to Gideon Ezra, he would like to stay in his job even after the elections,” said Ch.-Supt. Yehuda Maman, spokesman for the Internal Security Ministry. “He believes he has started something with his committee and would like to see it all the way through.” However, in the case of the Likud being ousted in the elections or Ezra not being reappointed Internal Security minister, “The groundwork,” Maman said, “has been laid for a future minister.”