No Rogue Operation

December 25, 1997 - The Jerusalem Post - Op-ed by Uri Dan & Dennis Eisenberg

On the eve of her visit to Jonathan Pollard a week ago, Communications Minister Limor Livnat told CNN that, as a result of a Foreign Ministry briefing prior to her departure, she believed that Pollard's actions for Israel while a US Naval intelligence officer was a "rogue operation." Next day, as she entered Pollard's cell, he said to her: "I thank you for coming to see me.

The only reason why I have been a prisoner for 13 years is based on the false concept that I was engaged in a rogue operation. Successive Israeli governments have used that lie to deny responsibility for my actions. The US will never release me until the Israelis begin to tell the truth.


In response to her shocked expression, Pollard explained that

if Israel had admitted he was their paid agent "the Americans were prepared to sweep the matter under the rug. I would not have spent a single day in prison.

George Shultz, the secretary of state who was sympathetic to Israel, felt precisely the same way. I would have been put on a plane to Israel and that would have been the end of the affair." According to testimony of a Shultz aide, the Israelis were told: "Ask Aviem Sela (one of Pollard's three handlers) to give us an affidavit about the truth. Pollard admitted all the details and passed 15 lie detector tests to prove it. We need all this in writing. If it supports Pollard we can be friends again."

The Israeli government decided against this advice, for such an admission would have forced then-defense minister Yitzhak Rabin as well as premier Shimon Peres to resign. Their "washing their hands" document claiming that Pollard's role was never sanctioned by Jerusalem enraged Shultz. He promptly advised the US Justice Department to issue indictments against Pollard and Sela.

Livnat told Pollard that she had been refused official permission last year by the Israeli government to visit him. Startled by Pollard's outburst, she said that the policy of "quiet diplomacy" had failed miserably and that

Jerusalem must now pressure the US to pardon Pollard promptly, immediately

. "Please convince Netanyahu to sign a joint letter with Ehud Barak asking for my release," were Pollard's last words to her. In tears as she left him, Limor Livnat hugged him close to her and said "I will do all I can to help you."

In the wake of Limor's call on Pollard, a foreign ministry spokesman told Yediot Aharanot last week of deep concern about "the festival of visits in the media limelight to Jonathan Pollard." He added that this was dangerous and damaging to Pollard's case and harmful to his best interests. The angered Livnat reacted promptly: "The negative remarks made about my visit to Pollard are a chutzpah.

It's time that the government now openly assists him to obtain his freedom.

" She added that Netanyahu had given her a personal letter to deliver to Pollard. In a damage control operation, the director-general of the Foreign Ministry, Eitan Ben-Tsur rebutted his own official's comments.

Nonetheless, his ministry persists in the "rogue operation" thesis. The falsehood embedded in this stand was underlined by Rabin's former aide, Eitan Haber who is reported to have revealed that

if the findings of the Rottenstriech and Abba Eban secret commissions of inquiry had been published, Rabin, Peres and Shamir would have been forced to resign

. This column can also reveal that Eban declared that Rabin, as head of the Lakam intelligence unit run by Rafi Eitan, was aware of how Pollard was a highly valued agent.

The recent visits by government ministers Yuri Edelstein and Limor Livnat to Pollard's cell has encouraged some US congressmen and senators to mobilize support to seek a pardon with a "quiet diplomacy" approach, which in reality means sweeping the issue under the carpet. As it was put to this column by a high ranking Washington personality:


The muffled voices of Israeli officialdom is causing deep bafflement at the White House as to whether the Israeli government is serious or not about wanting the release.

The mobilization of support for Pollard has been stopped dead in its tracks by the negative comments made by David Levy and the Israeli Foreign Ministry," commented a frequent visitor to President Clinton.

Adding force to this feeling of bewilderment was a recent high level visit by Israeli officials to the US,

when Pollard's name was not even mentioned

or even hinted at. "You cannot expect US senators and congressmen to be holier than the pope.

Israel must cease talking out of two sides of the same mouth at the same time about Pollard

," was an irate comment made to us this week from our source.
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