Report of an Investigation
Commission on the Pollard Case
(May 27, 1987)
On March 11, 1987, the Inner
Cabinet decided to appoint a two-member investigation commission into
the Pollard case.
Appointed were a former Chief of Staff General (Res.) Tsur and the
Chairman of the Israel Press Council, advocate Rotenstreich. At the
same time, Abba Eban, the
Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, also
appointed a sub-committee which he chaired to look into the Pollard
case. Both reports were issued on the same day. The following report
concluded that "the government as a whole should assume
responsibility for the failures mentioned in the report which we have
presented, and should announce this in public. " The next day the
Inner Cabinet endorsed the report. It also contained secret annexes
which were not made public.
On the eleventh of Adar 5747,
12 March 1987, the prime minister appointed the following persons to
serve as a two-member investigation commission into the Pollard case.
Following is the letter of
Jerusalem 11th Adar 5747
12th March 1987
To advocate Dr. Yehushua
Rav Aluf (res.) Tsvi Tsur
LETTER OF APPOINTMENT
A. On tenth Adar 5747
(11.3.87) the Cabinet decided to appoint a two-member investigation
commission into the Pollard case.
B. In accordance with this
decision I have the honor to appoint you, with your consent, as an
investigation commission into this subject. Dr. Rotenstreich will
serve as chairman of the commission.
C. In pursuit of your
mission, you are authorized to receive any information both oral and
written deemed necessary in your judgment concerning this case and
from any person you think fit.
D. Your deliberations will be
governed by the rules of secrecy pertaining to the preservation of the
security of the state and its foreign relations.
E. I would be grateful if you
were to present your report to the government through me, as soon as
possible, including any recommendations you deem fit.
1. The commission held 35
sessions during which it interviewed 23 witnesses, several of whom
were summoned several times to verify testimonies which had been
given; in addition the commission held many meetings which were
dedicated to internal discussions of its members. The commission also
talked to various persons with a view to benefiting from information
in their possession.
2. It should be emphasized
that all the witnesses summoned by the commission appeared before it
and, to the best of its knowledge, the testimonies given were
complete. The commission examined many documents and received every
document it requested.
3. Whereas the matters
considered by the commission touch upon the security of the state, the
commission recommends that the report as a whole be classified
"top secret" and that only the following part be released to
4. It should be recalled that
several of those involved in this matter have been indicted in the
U.S.A. whereas others are still subject to a process of annulling
immunity granted to them. For this reason, and in order not to
infringe upon the personal rights of those involved to protect their
own interests, the commission has confined itself to this form of
publishing its conclusions, and it asks the understanding of the
public for this step it has taken.
Extract of the Conclusions of
the Investigation Commission for the Pollard Case
5. The Pollard affair began
in the first half of 1984 and ended towards the end of 1985.
6. At that time the
"Office of Scientific Liaison" (hereafter Lekem), the organ
responsible for recruiting and running Pollard, was headed by Rafael
7. The ministers of defense
during that period were Mr. M. Arens (from 24.2.83 to 13.9.84) and Mr.
Y. Rabin (as of September 1984).
8. After the arrest of
Pollard, government activity in the matter was concentrated in the
hands of then prime minister (S. Peres), the vice prime minister and
minister of foreign affairs (Y. Shamir) and the minister of defense
9. The above three ministers
appointed a professional team to handle contacts with U.S. authorities
on the affair. The team reported to the same three ministers and acted
on their instructions.
10. When Rafael
Eitan was appointed to his position as head of Lekem, he already
had a most commendable career in security affairs and a vast
experience in the field of intelligence.
11. Notwithstanding his claim
that a part of the modus operandi of Lekem was not to his liking, he
did not act sufficiently to change the situation.
12. In spite of the fact that
he sometimes initiated meetings with the political level, he did not
consult with the relevant ministers on the recruitment and running of
13. There was no room for the
recruitment and running of Pollard.
14. There is room for
criticism of the way Lekem was administered during that period. At the
same time Rafael Eitan served, for a part of the period, as adviser to
the prime minister on terrorist affairs and also dealt with other
15. In the circumstances, the
decision to dissolve Lekem was correct. Rafael Eitan was removed from
the defense establishment after many years of service. This is to be
viewed as very severe punishment.
16. The ministers who
appointed Rafael Eitan as chairman of the board of directors of Israel
Chemicals Ltd, following the dissolution of Lekem and the release of
Mr. Eitan from the defense establishment, did not show adequate
sensitivity concerning the reverberations that this appointment might
generate against the background of the affair.
Colonel Aviem Sella
17. The conduct of Colonel
Aviem Sella was not reasonable during certain stages of the Pollard
affair, his entanglement was, in part, the result of an excessive
initiative to be involved in the Pollard case.
18. The pressures brought to
bear on the chief of the general staff and the minister of defense to
promote Colonel Sella and to appoint him commander of Tel Nof base,
appear to us, and this is an understatement, unjustified. His
resignation from this post, in view of the criticism that this
appointment engendered both in Israel and abroad, appears to us to
have been correct.
Responsibility of the
Political Level During the Period Pollard was Run
19. Pollard was recruited and
run during the tenure of Minister M.
Arens as minister of defense and continued to be run during the
tenure of Minister Y. Rabin as
minister of defense. The difference between the two is the length of
their tenure during the period of the Pollard case.
20. The two above ministers
knew neither of the recruitment and running of Pollard, nor of the
place of his employment and, obviously, they were not asked to approve
21. The oversight system of
the Ministry of Defense over Lekem operated in a most partial manner,
and did not monitor its activities closely.
22. Periodic checks and
reassessments of the targets of the tasks and of operational policy of
Lekem were not carried out.
Responsibility of the
Political Level For Handling the Pollard Affair Following His Arrest
23. The prime minister (S.
Peres), the vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs (Y.
Shamir) and the minister of defense (Y. Rabin) acted in this
manner as a united team which decided jointly on all lines of action.
24. The political level did
not make a sufficient report to determine the necessary facts, in
order that they might serve as a basis for decisions taken which were
pertinent to the matter.
25. However, the decision in
itself, which was taken at that time, to cooperate with U.S.
authorities in investigating the case, appears to us as reasonable.
26. The professional team
which was entrusted with dealing with the issue, questioned a part of
those involved but did not consider that it was charged with the task
of carrying out a complete debrief of the affair.
27. It is for this reason
that, within the framework of the agreement reached on this matter,
the team passed incomplete facts (for lack of sufficient information)
to the U.S. authorities and thus damaged our credibility.
28. The criticism we have
concerning the three ministers lies in the fact that they did not take
sufficient care to determine the facts before they were passed on to
the U.S. authorities.
29. However, it should be
emphasized that this was the result of pressure of time, the shock of
the affair and the utter surprise with which it caught the political
level, coupled with the sincere desire to cooperate with U.S.
authorities within understandable security constraints.
30. The responsibility of the
ministers of defense during the period Pollard was run is
responsibility for the commission or omission of their subordinates
and for the non-construction of an effective oversight system to
The responsibility of the
ministers after the arrest is direct responsibility for determining
the method of dealing with the affair.
31. In our system the whole
government as one body bears responsibility before the Knesset.
Whereas every one of the ministers who is charged with a ministry
performs a specific function, from the point of view of membership in
the government and parliamentary responsibility, every minister is an
inseparable part of the overall body which is the government.
32. The government as a whole
and every one of the ministers is duty-bound to ascertain that the
appropriate conclusions stemming from this report are drawn and that
the failures mentioned in it do not reoccur.
33. In our opinion the
government as a whole should assume responsibility for the failures
mentioned in the report which we have presented, and should announce
this in public.