Is­rael blushes over ar­rest of State­side spy

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ERIC SIL­VER JERUSALEM

IS­RAEL WAS stunned this week when New York po­lice ar­rested an 84-year-old re­tired Jewish mil­i­tary en­gi­neer and ac­cused him of hand­ing dozens of clas­si­fied doc­u­ments to an Is­raeli agent be­tween 1979 and 1985.

It raised the spec­tre of an­other Jonathan Pol­lard af­fair (for­mer US Naval civil­ian intelligence an­a­lyst con­victed of spy­ing for Is­rael) and threat­ened to over­shadow Pres­i­dent Bush’s state visit for Is­rael’s 60th an­niver­sary. Tom Stacey, a State De­part­ment spokesman, said: “This is not the kind of be­hav­iour we would ex­pect from friends and al­lies.”

Com­men­ta­tors said it made it less likely than ever that Bush would ac­cede to Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert’s re­quest to re­lease Pol­lard, jailed for life in 1986. He was granted Is­raeli cit­i­zen­ship in 1998.

Ben-Ami Kadish was charged with giv­ing an Is­raeli con­sular of­fi­cial se­cret ma­te­rial on the US nu­clear weapons pro­gramme, a mod­i­fied ver­sion of the F-15 war­plane be­ing sold to Saudi Ara­bia and the Pa­triot air defence sys­tem.

He was said to have re­ported to Yosef Yagur, the same han­dler as Pol­lard. He was al­leged to have phoned Mr Yagur re­cently and asked what he should do if ques­tioned. Mr Yagur is said to have told him to deny ev­ery­thing.

The He­brew-lan­guage con­ver­sa­tion was ap­par­ently mon­i­tored by the CIA. They said this was ev­i­dence of a con­tin­u­ing con­nec­tion and Mr Kadish could not hide be­hind the statute of lim­i­ta­tions.

Prose­cu­tors ac­knowl­edged that, un­like Pol­lard, Mr Kadish, who was born in the US but spent part of his youth in Is­rael and has a brother there, had re­ceived no pay­ment. They said he told them that he “did it for Is­rael”. He was re­leased on $300,000 bail and or­dered not to leave his home state of New Jer­sey.

Is­raeli min­is­ters and se­cu­rity vet­er­ans closed ranks, re­fus­ing to com­ment. Pen­sions Min­is­ter Rafi Ei­tan, who headed the agency in­volved, told as­so­ciates he “had no idea” about the af­fair and de­nied know­ing Mr Kadish. Mr Olmert, on hol­i­day near Lake Kin­neret, or­dered his aides to find out what had hap­pened. Amer­i­can of­fi­cials briefed their Is­raeli coun­ter­parts only af­ter the story was pub­lished.

Of­fi­cials who spoke to the JC pri­vately put a brave face on it, claim­ing that the af­fair would have no last­ing ef­fect on US-Is­raeli re­la­tions. They pointed to Mr Kadish’s re­lease on bail as a sign that the Amer­i­cans were not tak­ing the case se­ri­ously.

“First of all,” one said, “it’s a very old story, 25 years old. It was be­fore the Pol­lard event. We promised the Amer­i­cans at that time that we would never do it again, and we have kept our word.”

The US had no in­ter­est in a con­fronta­tion at this time, the of­fi­cial ar­gued. “The in­ter­est of the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion is to see progress in the Is­raeliPales­tinian peace process while the Pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleezza Rice are still in of­fice.

“They know that a dis­pute will not al­low any progress on that is­sue. They are try­ing to show in­ter­est and maybe reap some re­wards of progress. Ob­vi­ously, Is­rael has no in­ter­est in any dis­pute with the Amer­i­cans.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.