Committee Report Says Israel Government Must Bear Pollard Blame
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A government panel appointed to appease U.S. anger over the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy case called for the entire Israeli government to take responsibility for the bungled operation, Israel radio reported today.
The radio said the panel asked the government to ″draw the proper conclusions″ to prevent such a case from happening again.
The commission found that neither of the two defense ministers in office while Pollard was spying for Israel in 1984 and 1985 knew about his activities, the state-run radio said.
The commission also found the Defense Ministry’s supervisory apparatus was flawed because it did not monitor Pollard’s actitivies closely, the radio said.
The panel consisted of two men, prominent lawyer Yehoshua Rotenstreich and former chief of staff Zvi Tsur.
Pollard, 32, an American Jew and a former civilian U.S. Navy analyst, was sentenced in Washington last March to life in prison for selling hundreds of classified U.S. military documents to Israel. U.S. officials said the documents contained information about weapons possessed by Israel’s Arab enemies.
The case badly strained Israel’s relations with the United States, its closest ally, which provides Israel with $3 billion a year in military in civilian aid.
Pollard was recruited by a Defense Ministry spy unit while the right-wing Likud bloc’s Moshe Arens was defense minister. He continued his spying after Yitzhak Rabin, of the left-leaning Labor Party, replaced Arens.
The panel said then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who have since switched jobs, acted in consort with Rabin and made joint decisions after Pollard’s arrest in Washington in November 1985, the radio said.
Israel television said the commission’s harshest criticism was leveled at Rafael Eitan, the former Mossad intelligence agent who handled Pollard.
It said Eitan acted on his own in deciding to use Pollard in the United States and did not tell his superiors about Pollard’s subsequent activities, the television said.
The commission also criticized air force Col. Aviem Sella for acting on his own initiative and outside of his military duties in recruiting Pollard, the television said. Sella was indicted in America for his role in the case.
The commission criticized Sella’s superiors for promoting him to a key air force job in February.
A second inquiry conducted by a parliament committee also was to be completed shortly.
Pollard said the ″highest echelons″ of the Israeli government were aware of his spy activities.
Israeli leaders denied knowledge of Pollard’s activities.