WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz said Wednesday he was disheartened by Israeli spying on the United States, and he criticized Jerusalem for promoting a key officer involved in the Jonathan Jay Pollard espionage case.
Shultz told a House appropriations subcommittee that he has directed American diplomats to shun Israeli Col. Aviem (Avi) Sella and the air force base he commands. Sella was indicted last week by a federal grand jury here on charges he recruited Pollard and received U.S. defense secrets from him over a two-year period.
"I think it is very disheartening to find that Israel has been spying on the United States," Shultz said. "I am deeply distressed about the spying on the United States by any country, and perhaps it hurts especially when it's Israel."
Responds to Question
Shultz delivered his unusually severe criticism of Israel's actions in reply to questions from Rep. Matthew F. McHugh (D-N.Y.). The secretary described himself as a "deep friend" of Israel and also urged that the espionage affair not disrupt U.S.-Israeli relations or the quest for Middle East peace.
"But at the same time, I think there is no way to hide the distress we feel about it," Shultz said.
He said Israel has cooperated in the U.S. investigation "to a degree" and that Sella and another former official linked to the spy case, Rafi Eitan, "seemed to us to have been treated in a way that is not warranted" by the Israeli government.
Sella was named to command the country's second-largest air base after the Pollard case broke. Eitan, who headed the now-disbanded espionage unit in the Israeli Defense Ministry, is now the chairman of Israel Chemicals, the largest state-owned firm.
Shultz said Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who visited here last month, told him he was "very ashamed" of the spy case. "It is up to the Israelis to decide internally what they wish to do about this matter," he added. "But certainly one would hope they would, if only within their own circle, clarify what happened."
Shultz's comments in Washington came as the Israeli Cabinet decided Wednesday to appoint a special two-member committee to investigate Israel's role in the Pollard spy case.
Pollard, a former U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty last June to charges he provided thousands of top-secret U.S. documents to three Israeli officials. On March 4, he was sentenced to life in prison.
Pollard's wife, Anne Henderson-Pollard, received two concurrent five-year terms as an accomplice.