Jonathan Pollard 311 (R).
(photo credit: Courtesy of Justice for Jonathan Pollard)
Former cabinet minister Rafi Eitan, who was the intelligence officer who
operated Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in the mid-1980s, revealed Monday that
he incriminated him because he was told Pollard would serve no more than 10
years in prison.
Speaking to Army Radio to mark Monday’s anniversary
according to the Hebrew calendar of Pollard’s arrest in 1985, Eitan referred to
secret understandings reached between the Israeli and US
According to the agreement, after a decade, Pollard’s life
sentence would be commuted to time served. Army Radio said that when the time
came, the Americans denied there had been a deal, and Israel did not protest
enough to bring about his release.
“My understanding at the time was that
he would not serve more than 10 years,” Eitan said. “There seems to be a desire
for revenge [on the part of the Americans] to say: ‘You [Israel] were a friendly
[country] and look at what you did, we will show you.’” Eitan said he deeply
regretted having incriminated Pollard and that he was devoting his final years
to an effort to bring about his release. He said he wrote to US President Barack
Obama apologizing and encouraging him to release Pollard.
In an interview
published a year ago in Yediot Aharonot, Eitan revealed how he personally had
handed over incriminating evidence to the Americans, knowing full well it would
be used against Pollard. He claimed he had no choice because he was ordered to
do so by the government of Shimon Peres
, who was prime minister at the
“It was not an easy moment.
The government made the decision
and I cooperated with the Americans against my agent,” Eitan said.
Americans knew who I was. They knew my reputation,” he continued. “When I
testified, I felt a storm of powerful emotions.
I had a deep sense that I
should not be talking to the Americans about this operation, that they are
certainly not interested in Pollard’s welfare. Nevertheless, I am a disciplined
soldier and I have never acted in opposition to my government. I cooperated,
even if my own conscience thought that I ought to act otherwise.”Eitan
told The Jerusalem Post in 2006
that he regretted having used the US Navy
analyst to spy on his home country.
“I gave my opinion to the Americans
that I made a mistake [when I operated him] but that Israel was in dire straits,
which makes people do things beyond what is permitted,” Eitan
Pollard’s wife, Esther, wrote about a meeting with Eitan years ago
in which Eitan said the only thing he regretted about the Pollard affair was
that he did not “finish the job” before leaving the US.
She wrote that
when he was asked what he had meant, Eitan replied: “If I had been at the
[Israeli] embassy when Pollard came to seek asylum, I would have put a bullet
through his head and there would have been no Pollard affair.”