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ISRAEL: Jonathan Pollard in exchange for settlement freeze extension?

The clock is ticking away on the freeze. The 10-month moratorium on Jewish settlement construction expires Sept.  26, presenting the most immediate obstacle to the newly resumed directIsraeli-Palestinian talks, already teetering.  

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated repeatedly that the freeze will not be extended. Between his right-wing coalition demanding renewed construction and massive pressure to extend the freeze for the sake of the talks, something will have to give. But maybe the U.S. can give something too that will help Netanyahu sell a compromise.

That "something" is someone, Jonathan Pollard.

Jerusalem is said to be mulling an extension of the freeze in return for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a former civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy. Pollard provided Israel with thousands of secret documents and has been serving a life sentence since 1987. 


According to Israel's Army Radio station, a private citizen -- a veteran researcher of the conflict with extensive U.S. and Palestinian ties -- was approached by a confidant of the prime minister and asked to inquire discreetly in American administration circles as to the possibility of such a deal. The question had also been examined in polls, although not public ones, said Monday's Hebrew-language report, which quoted an unnamed Jerusalem source saying the idea was being discussed as "one of many." The first mention of the initiative came as an "observation" and then spread.

The U.S. administration is publicly ignoring the reported offer, says the Washington Post, and Israeli officials would not comment on the reports.

For the first decade after the Pollard affair, which embarrassed Israel and infuriated the U.S., Israel did not publicly acknowledge Pollard. This gradually changed, as Pollard had availed himself of Israel's Supreme Court over the years, petitioning for Israeli citizenship and official acknowledgment, both of which he eventually received.

Israeli efforts on Pollard's behalf were based on a humanitarian claim but often came in conjunction with developments in the peace process and related diplomacy. The late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had made efforts around the time of the signing of the Olso interim agreements in 1995, as had Netanyahu around the 1998 Wye River talks, and then-Prime Minister and now Defense Minister Ehud Barak around Camp David talks in 2000. At least once, then-President Clinton had promised Israel Pollard's release but backed down after CIA Director George J. Tenet threatened to resign and other officials were adamant that he serve his sentence.

The last round of hope or hype came in March 2008; the quiet optimism eventually evaporated.

-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem

Top: Freeze countdown "hourglass campaign." Credit: Website of Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon

Bottom: Jonathan Pollard. Credit: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons

Comments () | Archives (22)

To Dean Blake: You make Pollard seem like OJ and yourself as his lawyer.
To ABG: Pollard proves why there should not be dual citizenship.
To everyone else: I am not like Pollard as accused by ABG; I am 20 times better looking. Believe it.

Dean Blake (commented below) has been hitting the Hasbara pretty hard, and is no fan of the truth, to say the least.

And anyways, yet another phony settlement "freeze" is not enough for a traitor like Pollard. Maybe pulling back to '67 lines, right of return and getting ALL settlers out of Palestine would be a bit more reasonable.

Get Israel the heck out of the US gov't, they are not allies, they are a parasite. Treat Israel the same as we treat France, Germany or any other country.

Gee, George, those Joos sure are evil. Time to send them back to Jooopiter!

Stefano, you have painted quite the picture of yourself. Would you like a description?

Holding Palestinians hostage in exchange for a traitor, some friend.

A good read on the subject, from 1999:

The case against Jonathan Pollard.

hosted at:

The more I learn about Israel, the least I like. In the U.S. we must break the hold of the jew lobby in Congress. Let's stop the $12,000 per day aid for starters.
As for this convicted spy let him rot in jail.

Jews are always obligated to negotiate the release of Jewish hostiges; its an explicit religious obligation. You may also not know what Pollard actually did - he revealed to the Israelis that the State Department double crossed the Israelis and withheld critical defense information contrary to our specific Treaty, but not the information itself, only giving proof that it was improperly withheld, such as the title pages and table of contents.

The outcome of this embarrassing situation was that the USA agreed to help the Israelis build and launch their own spy satellites. We blew it up on the launch pad, but the Israelis built two of them (less costly than launch insurance) and the Russians successfully launched to orbit for cash.

Pollard's in jail because of the perfidity of certain persons in the State Dept. (anti-semitism?) and a clear treaty violation by the USA to the detriment of an important allie. His was part of a larger effort by certain paranoid pro-Arab persons in our government to route Jews out of important positions in American defense (witch hunt?) including the head of the Army who comitted suicide when forced to resign for an infraction very early in his career more than thirty years prior; he sported a medal in an old photo he didn't earn. He could have 'defected' to Israel, but did the one thing that is generally prohibited to Jews.. Think twice before you blindly accept the labels government assignes to people and then make with the sweeping generalizations.

Remember the AIPAC accusations just a few years back - both persons and the organization were acquitted in that witch hunt, so the State Dept. created J-Street! (look at the positions of the founding membersof the Board of Directors - former State officials) as a different approach to emasculating AIPAC - divide and conquor the Jewish community. Pollard is jailed because his own government committed the moral wrong, the subsequent mitigating actions by the defense to aid Israel to independantly obtain the information withheld indicating admission of guilt by the USA in this affair.

Pollard is jailed because his own government committed the moral wrong, the subsequent mitigating actions by the defense to aid Israel to independantly obtain defensive information wrongfully withheld indicating admission of guilt by the State this affair, not just Pollard - he's a scape goat in the truest meaning of the phrase.

How about us not giving them 5 Billion dollars every year? This will help the Israelis to grow some brains.

MissMarple, I am saying that our Congress should be free of undue influences from foreign entities, be it Israel or Saudi or ...
I don't subscribe to any religion but I do respect people who do!

The US government should give no thought to releasing Johnathan Pollard in exchange for an extension of Israel's settlement freeze. Pollard is a US citizen, found guilty in a US court for treason against the US government which he swore to protect. End of story. It was and is a US decision and should not be subject to Israeli meddling anymore than the US has a right to interfer in the treatment of Mordechai Vanunu who revealed the existance of Israel's nuclear bombs to the world.

Joe, what do you mean about, "Abdul faith"? Are you trying to say Islam? Can't you bring yourself to say Islam? Here, Muslim, Muslim, Muslim, and God did not strike me dead. I still can go to Synagogue, and they will let me in. How dare you! A variable handful of Muslims are terrorists, and fewer than that have attacked us, here and abroad. There are 1.5 Billion Muslims.

Don't confuse Israel's struggle with it's neighbors, with Muslims in America. There are criminals of every religion; we don't blame the entire religion because some of their adherents are criminals. Remember the 1930's? There were Catholic Italian, and Jewish gangs in Chicago and on the East Coast. Did we close Catholic Churches and Synagogues? No. Leave the Muslims alone. This isn't the Dark Ages; the Crusades are over.

Sometimes a picture is worth many many words. I perceive him as a brain-washed, authoritarian, dogmatic ideologue who would do well as a Communist or Nazi guard at a concentration or an internment camp--perhaps in the Gaza open-air ghetto--or a techno-bureaucratic monitor at a West Bank settlement. Our politicians and bureaucrats are more scared of him and his ilk than they are of the so-called terrorists, as they should be. Shalom, Salaam, Peace, and Cosmos!

Gordon, it is the USA which is on the leash. Ask ex-Israeli PM Olmert: "there is no difference between Bush and Obama" on how they view and value Israel. He is essentially correct in terms of putting Israeli security even ahead of our own. Obama only appears to be different because there is a growing split among American Jews on how to reduce anti-Semitism in the the USA and throughout the world. Liberal Zionist Jews are critical of Israel because of its brutal policies making people like us, sit up and notice the realities, which also includes how a small minority actually dominates in a so-called majoritarian democracy here in the USA and elsewhere in the West. Neocon Zionist Jews and their lackeys do not care that much about brutal Israeli policies creating anti-Semitism because they use the latter as continuing legitimacy for the existence of the State of Israel. Righteousness or morality has very little to do with the split.

Stefano, it's unfortunate but you're right!

I see no good outcome with Israel. Its lobbyists bribe our leaders, but if we don't give Israel money and aid, it can sell nuclear weapons and high technology to our enemies and competitors. Some smart people run that little country.

Jonathan Pollard is guilty of treason and ought to be hanged until dead. The very notion of releasing him in exchange for a "settlement" expansion which Israel will ignore at its convenience is laughable.

The US-Israel relationship is utterly bizarre. How about if the US cuts off all monetary aid, arms "sales" and UN vetoes until Israel decides to behave? Why *not* do that? Israel is not the 51st state nor is it any kind of "sister" nation.

And now they want to dangle a meaningless carrot in exchange for one in a long series of Israeli spies guilty of spying in the US? I do not think so!

Give Israel a hell of a good yank on its leash to help Israel understand who is the MUCH LARGER and MUCH MORE POWERFUL nation.

Pollard pleaded guilty to spying under a plea agreement with the US prosecuter that would have called a fixed term sentence. At the last moment Caspar Weinberger, then Secretary of Defense, breaking the plea bargain,sent a secret memo to the Judge that has been reported as having declared that Pollard had provided names of US intelligence operatives to the Soviet Union. The Judge then sentenced Pollard to the much more severe life sentence.
Since then, Aldrich Ames, and Robert Hansen, the traitors who had actually provided the names to the Soviet Union have been found out. Weinberger, before he died, stated that Pollards offences were not as bad as he had thought, but did nothing to alleviate Pollard's sentence.
Other American spies whose offenses were equal, or greater, than Pollard's were given much shorter sentences. While Pollard was definitely guilty to the crimes to which he pled guilty, his sentencing and the subsequent appellate decisions have been gross miscarriages of judgement.

How about we continue to give Israel monetary and other aid in exchange for a settlement freeze? Or, the obverse. It is up to Israel, because friendship is a two-way street.

What does Israel provide the USA for its $3,000,000,000,000+ every year on an automatic basis? The American government would never provide that amount to any average American citizens without strings attached.

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