Netanyahu 'to demand release of spy in return for peace talks concessions'
Israeli PM will demand release of Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel against US in 1987, reports say _________________________________________________________ Matthew Kalman in Jerusalem
theguardian.com, Tuesday 24 December 2013 14.10 GMT _________________________________________________________
reports said Binyamin Netanyahu (pictured) would either demand
Pollard’s release when Israel signed a framework agreement, or as part
of a prisoner exchange involving Arab citizens of Israel held for
terrorist offences. Photograph: Gali Tibbon/AP
The Israeli prime ministerBinyamin Netanyahuwill link the release of former US naval intelligence analyst Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying against the US forIsrael, to progress in the US-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.
The reports said Netanyahu would either demand Pollard's release whenIsraelsigned
a framework agreement, or as part of a prisoner exchange involving Arab
citizens of Israel held for terrorist offences, who have always been
excluded from previous agreements.
office declined to confirm or deny the story, which was reported by
most of Israel's most well-informed diplomatic correspondents – a
favoured method of leaking sensitive information.
was imprisoned in 1987 and has served longer than any other spy
captured in the US. Repeated Israeli requests for his release have been
ignored, although they have lately been joined by top US officials
responsible for his prosecution, including Lawrence Kolb, deputy to then
US defence secretary Caspar Weinberger.
ask that you seriously consider the requests that there have been from
top current and former American officials and release Pollard on
humanitarian grounds," said a letter to The US president, Barack Obama,
signed by more than 100 Israeli MPs and ministers ahead of a special
session in the Knesset on Wednesday.
a matter of justice," said the deputy defence minister, Danny Danon.
"The Americans can't come to us asking for more and more while Pollard
remains in prison."
Shalit, the Israeli soldier released in a prisoner swap in 2011 after
being held for five years by Hamas, added his moral weight to the
campaign and called on "our American friends" to release him.
Israel released terrorists with blood on their hands as a gesture to
the Palestinians – this is an appropriate reciprocal gesture," Shalit
wrote in a national newspaper column.
some close observers of the tangled web of US-Israeli relations warned
that the latest leaks might be designed more for domestic consumption as
Netanyahu grapples with the fractious right wing of his party ahead of
next week's planned prisoner release against a background of scattered
but increasing Palestinian violence.
are so many difficult issues right now on the agenda between Obama and
Netanyahu that to add Pollard to that with all of the baggage that it
carries is not likely," said Professor Gerald Steinberg of Bar-Ilan