TEL AVIV (Mar. 1)
The Defense Ministry dismissed as “totally groundless” an allegation in the Tower Commission’s report that Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin had offered to send Israeli instructors to help the Contras, the Nicaraguan rebels attempting to overthrow the Sandinista government.
On the contrary, Rabin received a request for such aid and rejected it “out of hand,” according to a Ministry statement released Friday.
The Tower Commission was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to investigate the sale of U.S. arms to Iran.
The statement said: “The report of the Tower Commission issued yesterday (Thursday) in the U.S. contains, among other things, a memorandum conveyed by Col. North to National Security Advisor John Poindexter. According to this memorandum, the Defense Minister had allegedly offered aid to the Contras in the form of instructors. This allegation is totally groundless.”
The statement was referring to Lt. Col. Oliver North, a former National Security Council employee, and Vice Admiral John Poindexter, the former director. Both were dismissed after the Iran-Contra scandal broke last November.
SALD NORTH REQUESTED INSTRUCTORS
The statement disclosed that during Rabin’s visit to the U.S. in May 1986, North telephoned him and asked for an urgent meeting. “In the meeting, which took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel (in New York), North dwelt at length on the problems of the Contras and said he had suggested to the President to organize a private group of some 20 to 50 Israeli or British instructors.
“Col. North said he preferred a group of Israeli instructors, since they have greater experience and also speak Spanish. In his opinion, the matter had to be conducted privately and not via governments. Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin rejected the proposal out of hand during his meeting with Col. North.”