JERUSALEM (Mar. 16)
A private fund established a week ago to raise money for Jonathan Pollard and his wife Anne Henderson Pollard wound up its activities Monday following Israeli media reports that official sources in Israel were indirectly assisting the American couple convicted of spying for Israel.
The Voice of Israel reported Monday that official sources had paid out $80,000 towards the Pollards’ legal expenses which are estimated at about $120,000 and have promised to cover the full amount if possible. There were no reports of where the money originated or how it was transferred to the Pollards. A government spokesman on Monday denied that the government was involved in any way with providing the Pollards with funds.
Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst employed by the U.S. Navy, was sentenced to life imprisonment two weeks ago for his espionage activities on behalf of Israel. His wife received a five-year sentence as an accessory.
The severity of the sentences rallied public sympathy in Israel for the Pollards. An opinion poll published in Yediot Achronot last Friday showed that 68 percent of the respondents favored government assistance to the Pollards, 22 percent preferred public assistance, and only eight percent thought no assistance should be given.
The government’s position from the outset has been that Pollard’s spying was a “rogue” operation without the authorization or knowledge of the government. It has not deviated from that position. After Pollard was sentenced, Premier Yitzhak Shamir stated that his fate was of no concern to Israel since Israel neither hired him nor gave him espionage assignments.
TWO OFFICIAL PROBES ARE UNDER WAY
Meanwhile, two official probes are under way into the government’s involvement with Pollard and its handling of the affair. A two-man committee of inquiry established by the Inner Cabinet will begin reviewing documents Tuesday and will call its first witnesses Wednesday.
The committee is headed by Yehoshua Rotenstreich, a prominent Tel Aviv lawyer. Its other member is Gen. (Res.) Zvi Tsur, a former Chief of Staff. Rotenstreich took the assignment after it was rejected by retired Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau because the committee has been given no statutory powers such as the right to subpoena witnesses and have them testify under oath.
It will report directly to the Cabinet. According to Rotenstreich, its work will be completed “no later than than the end of April.”
The second investigation is being conducted by the intelligence subcommittee of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee which began hearings last Thursday. Its first witness was Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The Knesset body meets in closed session and while it has subpoena powers it lacks the broad scope and prestige of an official commission of inquiry, such as, for example, the Kahan Commission which investigated the conduct of the Lebanon war in 1983.
The opinion poll published Friday, conducted by the Dahaf Institute, showed that 51 percent of Israelis favored an investigation of the Pollard affair by an independent body with limited authority. Thirty-five percent was opposed. An investigation by a judicial commission with broad powers was opposed by a margin of 46-41 percent.
RABIN: SUSPICIONS ARE ERRONEOUS
Rabin, addressing the diamond jubilee celebrations of Hadassah here Monday, charged that some official circles in the American Administration are deliberately keeping the Pollard affair alive in a mistaken effort to find other Israeli agents involved.
Their suspicions are erroneous, Rabin said. “Israel does not carry out any espionage activities in the U.S. There are no Americans or non-Americans who serve as spies for Israel against the United States. This should be clear to the American people and to everyone,” the Defense Minister declared.