US: No comment on Eitan's election

Nathan Guttman - The Jerusalem Post - March 30, 2006

The US did not comment on the election of Rafi Eitan, leader of the Gil Pensioners' Party, to the Knesset. Eitan is considered an "unindicted co-conspirator" in the Jonathan Pollard spy case and might be taken in for questioning if he enters the US.

Rafi Eitan, a former senior Mossad official, was head of the branch dealing with technology and science during the Pollard affair. He was the one who recruited Pollard, a navy intelligence analyst, and served as his operator, receiving top secret information from him.

In an interview published in Yediot Aharonot before the elections, Eitan said he knew that using Pollard to spy against the US was risky, but admitted that he could not "resist the temptation," since the information he provided was so valuable.

While Pollard and his first wife Ann were indicted and convicted, the prosecution also named two Israelis who were part of the spy operation but were not indicted: Eitan and Aviem Sela of the IAF. Sela, who was in the US at the time, fled to Israel and was not prosecuted, and Eitan has not visited the US ever since.

Though there are no indictments against Eitan and Sela, it was made clear at the time that if they entered the US, they might face questioning on their role in the Pollard affair. After the case was revealed, Israel provided the Americans with limited access to information from Israelis who took part of the operation.

In the Yediot interview, Eitan took full responsibility for recruiting Pollard: "It was my decision and mine only. I took complete, absolute responsibility. I decided to take the risk, which was clear to me, although I didn't predict the affair would develop to such an extent. There's risk when using any agent."

He also disputed the claim that Pollard's information led to revealing the identity of American spies operating in the Soviet Union.

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