JERUSALEM (Sep. 30)
The Cabinet decided yesterday that senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry must take lie detector tests to help trace the source of a leak to the press of a “top secret” document relating to the current U.S.-Israeli dispute over oil drilling in the eastern sector of the Gulf of Suez. The polygraph test was proposed by Justice Minister Haim Zadok and accepted by the Cabinet which is deeply concerned over the “plague of leaks.”
The classified document, published in Haaretz earlier this week, was a report by Dr. Meir Rosenne, legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry, which said that the company prospecting for oil in the Gulf was an Egyptian subsidiary of the American Amoco Oil Co. and not an American-registered firm. This disclosure could have legal complications with respect to Israel’s negotiations with the U.S. over the oil drilling as well as important domestic political ramifications.
Defense Minister Shimon Peres has sharply criticized Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon for conducting negotiations with American officials rather than directly with Egypt. His contention is that Israel has allowed itself to become involved in a confrontation with the U.S. when it should be talking to the Egyptians and possibly offering them certain oil drilling rights in the Israel-controlled waters of the Gulf in return for a political quid pro quo.
Peres’ dispute with Rabin and Allon led some circles to assume that the leak emanated from pro-Peres sources and was intended to bolster the Defense Minister’s arguments. Peres’ aides have firmly denied any prior knowledge of the Rosenne report.
RABIN EXPRESSES CONSTERNATION
The issue of the leak arose at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting where Rabin tended to play down the affair. But at yesterday’s session, he expressed consternation at the number of copies of the secret document that apparently were in circulation. Lie detector tests are not new on the Israeli political scene. Twice before they were administered to senior officials.
One occasion followed publication of a report of a visit of Soviet emissaries to Israel. Another followed leakage of a secret message sent by President Ford to Premier Rabin during the negotiation of the Sinai interim agreement with Egypt. The results of the tests were never made public. The Prime Minister’s Office denied today a report in Davar that Rabin himself would have to submit to the latest test.
OIL DRILLING HALTED TEMPORARILY
Meanwhile, oil drilling in the eastern sector of the Gulf of Suez has been suspended pending further talks between Israeli and U.S. officials. Discussions earlier this month were unsuccessful.
It is expected, however, that the matte