A parliamentary investigating panel has found evidence of a government cover-up in the Jonathan Jay Pollard spy affair, political sources said today.
A state radio report said the Knesset intelligence subcommittee was dismayed by "lies, contradictions and attempts at a whitewash" over the affair of the U.S. Navy analyst who passed top secret documents to Israel.
The panel, headed by former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, is investigating how Israel came to spy on its closest ally, who bore political responsibility and why those Israelis involved were subsequently rewarded with plum government jobs.
Sources close to the investigation said Israel's three senior political leaders--Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin--appeared to have rehearsed their testimony together.
They seemed to use agreed-upon phraseology and identical wording in their separate appearances, the sources said.
The radio said that when Pollard was arrested in November, 1985, after being refused asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, the response of Israel's leadership was "one of confusion, superficiality and downright panic."
Pollard, 32, was sentenced to life in prison for passing hundreds of secret documents to Israel over an 18-month period.
Government leaders have insisted they knew nothing about the operation, putting blame for it instead on a now-disbanded "rogue intelligence unit."
The sources said Rafael Eitan, the veteran spymaster behind the operation, told the committee he did not seek specific ministerial authority to recruit an agent in Washington, believing he had general authority to act as he saw fit.
The Haaretz newspaper said Rabin testified he did not question the source of the information supplied by Eitan's Defense Ministry scientific intelligence unit.