JERUSALEM (Mar. 22)
The three Israeli diplomats who refuse to appear before an independent Israeli commission investigating the Pollard affair can testify without fear of their remarks being turned over to the United States, Premier Yitzhak Shamir wrote to the trio’s attorney Friday.
The three–Irit Erb, Ilan Ravid and Yosef Yagur, all who formerly served in the U.S.–have been advised by attorney David Libai not to testify before the Rotenstreich Commission for fear of self-incrimination which could lead to the U.S. criminal charges.
That decision has put in jeopardy the commission’s investigation of Israel’s role in Jonathan Pollard’s espionage in the United States.
Shamir’s message was written with the consent of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Attorney General Yosef Harish. It followed a Friday meeting between Shamir and Peres, their first since their separate visits to the U.S. and Egypt, respectively, last month, which at the time threatened to end the unity government.
But in the shadow of the Pollard affair the pair seems to be cooperating more and to have agreed to advocate together the continuation of the commission’s probe.
That position does not have universal support. Former Justice Minister Shmuel Tamir recommended in a radio interview Friday that a judicial commission of inquiry–with more power than the current commission–be appointed to investigate the affair.
Moreover, Minister Without Portfolio Ezer Weizman said he did not believe that Air Force Col. Aviem Sella, whom he knows well, acted on his own initiative in supervising Pollard, as Shamir, Peres and Rabin have insisted.