J'lem hopes spy case doesn't spiral

Foreign Ministry says relationship with US based upon "true friendship, respect and mutual interests."

Kadish spy 224.88 (photo credit: jwv.org)
Kadish spy 224.88
(photo credit: jwv.org)
Jerusalem remained tight-lipped Wednesday about the Tuesday arrest of Ben-Ami Kadish in the US for allegedly spying for Israel, hoping that the story - which for the most part remained on the inside pages of the major US newspapers - would not pick up much traction. Foreign Ministry spokesman Aryeh Mekel, one of a select few government officials talking about the issue on the record, said that Israel was not "specifically relating to this incident" and stressed that the alleged events happened in the early 1980s. "Since 1985, there has been strict adherence to the prime ministers' instructions against involvement in these kinds of activities," Mekel said, referring to a commitment made by the Israeli government to the US after the Jonathan Pollard affair. "The relationship between Israel and the United States has always been based upon true friendship, respect and a recognition of mutual interests," he said. In an apparent effort to distance itself from the whole episode, the Prime Minister's Office continued on Wednesday to refer all queries on the matter to the Foreign Ministry. Israel was formally informed of the charges on Tuesday when its No. 2 diplomat in Washington, Jeremy Issacharoff, was called into the State Department and informed of the matter. Israel's ambassador to the US, Sallai Meridor, is currently on a Pessah holiday. Foreign Ministry officials said they were not aware of any US official coming to Israel to discuss the matter with the government. Amid much speculation that the announcement of the arrest was not coincidental and was timed either to throw a wrench into US President George W. Bush's upcoming visit to Israel or to quell any possibility of Bush granting Pollard clemency before he leaves office in January 2009, one official pointed out that the timing was fortuitous on one account: The issue was completely overshadowed in the US news cycle by the Democratic primaries in Pennsylvania. The story was relegated to the Metro section of The New York Times, to page 19 of The Washington Post and well down the blotter on the evening news programs, the official said with some satisfaction. The official said another reason the story had not made as big a splash as it could have was that people realized it happened a generation ago and that Kadish himself had been released on a $300,000 property bond - an indication that the US did not judge him to be that high of a security threat. "The best thing Israel could do at this point," one government official said, "is to say as little about the incident as possible."