Dual Loyalties

My opinion on the people who shape our world

Sunday, August 29, 2004

J'lem admits relationship with Franklin Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Jerusalem Post | Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: "J'lem denies 'running' Franklin
By HERB KEINON

Sources in Jerusalem vehemently denied any Israeli espionage in the US, terming as an "internal US political story" the reports that a mid-level Pentagon official is under investigation for allegedly passing classified material to AIPAC, which in turn allegedly passed it on to Israel.

Security sources in Israel confirmed Sunday morning that Larry Franklin, the suspected "mole" in the Pentagon, did in fact have work ties with Jerusalem, but declare that the relationship most certainly did not deviate from standard diplomatic contact, Israel Radio reported.

"This is an American political story, an elections story, a pre-convention story to try to slander and criticize [US President George W.] Bush. It has nothing to do with us," one source in Jerusalem said.

A statement from the Prime Minister's Office released Saturday night said the government was not aware of the incident, adding that "Israel is not employing any intelligence assets in the United States."

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Yuval Steinitz said Israel had taken a decision to halt all espionage activities against the US following the 1985 arrest of American naval analyst Jonathan Pollard for passing on secrets to Israel.

"Following the Pollard crisis 20 years ago, there was a decision not to spy against the US government or its subsidiaries, and I am confident that this is still the case," Steinitz said.
Despite Israel's deep concern about Iran's nuclear program, it would not be tempted to break that ban, Steinitz said.

"Israel is very concerned... that the ayatollahs will acquire nuclear weapons," he said. "But if you think this might change our previous decision [not] to spy on the US, the answer is no."
The Jerusalem sources said that the story, which broke on the eve of the Republican National Convention in New York, comes amid an attempt over the last few months to attack the neo-conservatives close to Bush, such as Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Elliot Abrams, and to create the impression that the neo-cons, many of whom are Jewish, led Bush into war in Iraq because it was good for Israel, and now are trying to do the same with Iran.

"This is part of the effort to find fault with Bush, and cast him as someone who is surrounded and controlled by Jewish Zionists," one official said.

The story, according to these sources, fits in neatly with the anti-Semitic agenda of some in the US who are accusing Israel of being behind Bush's war in Iraq.

The sources said that, with the current election campaign focusing on Bush's competence to govern and command, this story is designed to tarnish his image.

Sources in Jerusalem said that it is illogical to believe that Israel would be running moles in Washington for two reasons: First, because the Israeli diplomatic and security establishment is still traumatized by the Pollard Affair, and would not risk jeopardizing intimate ties with the US by repeating any such measures. Secondly, the relationship with the US is so strong, and the ties so close, that Israel could get highly sensitive material through regular diplomatic channels.

Israel's defense establishment said it conducted a thorough examination over the weekend with all security and intelligence bodies to verify the veracity of the reports.

"The examination revealed what we expected," a senior defense official told The Jerusalem Post. "There are no sanctioned espionage operations going on against the United States. There is no truth to these reports.

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