September 6, 1999
of Mossad's use of Canadian ID halted
sources say investigation incomplete because Ottawa
did not want to upset Israel
The Globe and Mail
-- The federal government
has quietly closed the file on its investigation
into allegations that Israel broke a 1997 promise
to no longer use Canadian passports in covert
The Israeli pledge, made after purloined
Canadian passports were used in a failed
assassination attempt on an Islamic official in
Jordan, was allegedly broken later in 1997 when a
Canadian living in Israel was approached by an
organization thought to be a front for the
-- Israel's secret service.
A Foreign Affairs official has confirmed that
the investigation -- announced by Foreign Affairs
Minister Lloyd Axworthy -- has ended with
the conclusion there is insufficient evidence to
prove that Israel broke its pledge.
intelligence sources are denouncing the
investigation as shoddy and incomplete. They say
the probe was half-hearted because Canadian
officials did not want to upset Israel.
"They [Canadian officials] got the
answers they wanted from the Israelis and ended it
right there. Some investigation," one intelligence
The sources say Canadian officials did not
thoroughly check out Israel's explanations about
the Mossad's pursuit of Canadian passports. "It is
a farce," said another intelligence source.
is the second time Ottawa has investigated
allegations the Mossad approached Leslie
Lewis, a Canadian living in Israel, for his
passport after Mr. Axworthy received iron-clad
assurances from former Israeli prime minister
Auschwitz) in late 1997 that the spy agency
would no longer do so.
The pledge came after two Mossad agents were
apprehended in Amman in September, 1997, carrying
illegally obtained Canadian passports. They had
just botched an assassination attempt on Kahlid
Mashaal, a key member of Hamas, a militant
Palestinian organization. A diplomatic dustup
between Canada and Israel ensued, resulting in the
brief recall of Canada's former ambassador to
Israel, David Berger.
Last Monday, the Amman offices of Mr. Mashaal
and several other prominent Hamas members were
raided by Jordanian police. An arrest warrant for
Mr. Mashaal, who was reportedly out of the country,
has been issued by Jordanian authorities.
Valerie Noftle, a spokeswoman for Foreign
Affairs in Ottawa, rejected suggestions that the
new probe was incomplete or less than thorough.
Canada, she said, is satisfied with Israeli
assurances that Mossad agents were not involved in
further attempts to secure Canadian passports.
"The Canadian government has accepted these
assurances and has no basis, at this time, for
doubting them," Ms. Noftle said in an
The new probe was ordered last November by Mr.
Axworthy after Mr. Lewis, a Hasidic Jew, said
Israeli agents approached him to hand over his
passport just weeks after Mr. Netanyahu's
Mr. Lewis said he was
contacted by agents with the Bureau of
Immigration Affairs, which intelligence sources
say is a Mossad front.
He also said bureau agents asked for permission
to fly his daughter, Devora, to Canada where
she would obtain a Canadian passport and then
return to Israel to hand it over to agents. Mr.
Lewis turned them down.
Mr. Lewis alerted officials with the Canadian
embassy in Tel Aviv that Israel had a renewed
thirst for Canadian passports. A senior Canadian
diplomat visited him at home, took some notes and
Mr. Lewis, 56, is married with two children. A
former accountant, he moved to Israel from
Vancouver seven years ago.
He is no stranger to Israeli agents searching
for Canadian passports.
Mr. Lewis was first approached in 1996 by
Israeli officials, who told him they needed his
expired Canadian passport to help free Jews from
enemy states. Mr. Lewis obliged, and also gave them
other pieces of identification, including his
Canadian driver's licence.
However, when he became
aware of the failed assassination attempt, he
began to have second thoughts. He told Canadian
officials, and was later given a new passport
and told not to lend it to the Israelis
But Israeli agents were soon back at his
doorstep looking for his new Canadian passport and
he was back at the Canadian embassy telling
diplomats all about it.
Last November, Mr. Axworthy acknowledged that
Mr. Lewis contacted Canadian diplomats in Israel in
late 1997, but officials concluded that his
allegations could not be corroborated. Mr. Axworthy
said the original probe was hampered because Mr.
Lewis would not permit Canadian authorities to use
his name in any inquiries with the Israeli
However, Mr. Lewis fully co-operated with
Canadian officials during this second probe.
Ms. Noftle said Mr. Axworthy ordered his
officials to reinterview Mr. Lewis and raise his
allegations with Israeli officials earlier this
She said Mr. Lewis was "indefinite" about the
dates and locations of the latest "alleged"
approach by Israeli agents for his passport.
Israeli officials denied approaching Mr. Lewis
for his passport and also denied the existence of
the Bureau of Immigration Affairs, Ms. Noftle
Contacted by phone at his home in Jerusalem, Mr.
Lewis declined to be interviewed.
Attempts to reach Israeli diplomats for reaction
were unsuccessful. Last November, David bar
Ilan, a spokesman for the Israeli government,
denied breaking the passport promise to Canada and
suggested that Mr. Lewis may have been approached
by an imposter claiming to be a Mossad