Pollard says Israeli defence minister a disgrace

October 31, 1998 - Reuters

Pollard says Israeli defence minister a disgrace

American spy Jonathan Pollard has accused Israeli Defence Minister Yitzhak Mordechai of scuttling a bid to win his release, calling him a national disgrace.

Pollard, a formal U.S. naval intelligence analyst who is serving a life sentence in the United States for passing secrets to Israel, said Mordechai undermined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to link his release with the Middle East peace deal reached last week at Wye Plantation in Maryland.

Mordechai, a retired army general, denied the allegation, saying he spared no effort to secure Pollard's release.

"General Mordechai, for two years you have done everything in your power to avoid the issue of Jonathan Pollard. For two years you have disgraced the uniform you wear and you have betrayed the oath you took to your country," said Pollard, 40, in remarks broadcast late on Friday on Channel Two television.

"You've betrayed an agent in the field in the most disgraceful and unacceptable way any officer could possibly do, by stabbing your own prime minister in the back during the recent negotations at Wye.

"I feel very sorry for you, but I feel even more sorry and more upset for our country that a man such as you is occupying the position that you do. I worked for you. You are my boss. You are responsible for me," he said in an interview form his prison cell in North Carolina.

Pollard became a last-minute stumbling block to the interim accord reached on October 23 at a Wye Plantation summit after nine days of mediation by U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Netanyahu delayed the signing of the accord by several hours, demanding that Pollard's release be included in the deal. Government critics said Netanyahu hoped Pollard's release would help mute criticism of the accord.

"I can say in all honesty that in personal conversations I had with President Clinton...I asked and even begged that Jonathan Pollard be allowed to live with us," Mordechai said in response to the criticism.

"I would like to see him released and living here with us in Israel," he told Channel Two.

Clinton denied promising clemency but said he would review the file on Pollard, who has been imprisoned since 1985. The White House has since said there was no guarantee Pollard would be freed.

Pollard's arrest put strain on Israel's relationship with the United States, its biggest supporter and crucial ally.

Israeli leaders said at the time they did not know intelligence officers were running a spy in the United States. Earlier this year, Israel admitted for the first time that Pollard had been its agent.