WASHINGTON (May. 27)
The State Department expressed the hope Wednesday that the reports issued at the conclusion of two official Israeli investigations into the case of Jonathan Pollard will prevent any further spying by Israel on the United States.
“We hope that these reports will contribute to the ensuring that espionage activities like Pollard never occur again,” Phyllis Oakley, a State Department spokesperson, said.
Oakley said the U.S. had “no specific comments to offer” on the reports issued Tuesday by a Knesset intelligence subcommittee, headed by Labor MK Abba Eban, and a government-appointed committee, made up of Zvi Tsur, a former Chief of Staff, and Yehoshua Rotenstreich, a prominent Tel Aviv lawyer. She noted that the U.S. had not seen the official findings, only the reports in the press.
“The responsibility for following up the conclusions of these reports lies with the government of Israel,” Oakley said.
The findings of the investigations cleared Premier Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his predecessor in the post, Minister-Without-Portfolio Moshe Arens, of direct knowledge of the Pollard operation.
But the conclusions stressed they had ministerial responsibility for what occurred. Rabin and Arens were particularly criticized for lax supervision of Lekem, the intelligence unit that recruited Pollard to spy in the United States.
Pollard was arrested outside the Israel embassy here Nov. 25, 1985. He was sentenced last March 4 to life. His wife Anne was given a five-year prison term as an accessory.
The Rotenstreich-Tsur report was particularly critical of Rafael Eitan, head of Lekem, and Air Force Col. Aviem Sella, who recruited Pollard to spy on the U.S. Eitan has since been appointed head of Israel Chemicals, the largest government owned company.
Sella was appointed commander of an Israel Air Force base, but in the wake of U.S. criticism and a declaration that no American official would deal with that base, he resigned the post.
“We have always said that we are concerned about the treatment of those individuals involved in Pollard’s espionage, and the government of Israel undertook to hold such persons to account,” Oakley said.
She denied reports in Israel that Rabin would cancel a scheduled trip to Washington because of the committees’ conclusions. She said there was “no connection” between the Rabin visit and the Israeli findings.