Israeli Spy Challenges Cabinet Appointment

Steve Weizman - Associated Press - May 1, 2006

[AP] Jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard launched a court offensive Monday to block the pending Cabinet appointment of his former handler in the Mossad spy agency, his lawyer said.

Pollard's Israeli attorney said she filed suit with the Israeli Supreme Court seeking to overturn Rafael Eitan's appointment as minister of pensioners' affairs in a new Israeli coalition government to be sworn in Thursday. Court officials said they were unable to immediately confirm petition had been filed.

Eitan, 79, now heads an Israeli political party championing pensioners' rights, which won seven places in the 120-seat parliament in March elections.

He ran Pollard in an espionage operation that when exposed embarrassed Israel and badly tarnished its relations with the United States, its foremost ally. Pollard, a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy, passed military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested in 1985 and pleaded guilty, receiving a life sentence.

Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner said Eitan's appointment was likely to reopen old wounds and further hinder efforts to win his release.

"This could be the final nail in Jonathan Pollard's coffin," she told Israeli Army Radio, charging that Eitan had abandoned Pollard and was therefore unsuitable for a Cabinet post. "A commander who leaves a soldier in the field cannot receive ministerial responsibility," she said.

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