Jerusalem–David Kimche, the Israeli spy-turned-diplomat who played a key role in the Iran-contra scandal that rocked President Ronald Reagan’s administration, has died. He was 82.
Kimche, who would later become involved in the Middle East peace process, died at home late Monday after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
A former journalist, the British-born Kimche became known for bringing an urbane and cerebral tone to the rough-and-tumble business of Israeli intelligence operations.
He specialized in Middle Eastern and African missions as a spy, and later championed behind-the-scenes involvement in those areas as a senior government official.
He began his career with the Mossad spy agency in the 1950s after emigrating to Israel, and rose to become deputy director of the agency. He later served as director-general of the Foreign Ministry in the 1980s, and most recently was serving as President of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations.
Kimche was Israel’s point man in the Iran-contra affair, in which Washington authorized Israel to sell US weapons to Iran in violation of an international embargo. The sales were an attempt to induce Iranian-backed guerrillas in Lebanon to free American hostages, but some of the proceeds went to fund anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
During the 1980s, Kimche pressed for normalization of ties with Egypt, and was a key proponent of Israel’s failed effort to install a sympathetic government in Lebanon.
Kimche is survived by his wife, four children, and several grandchildren.