Netanyahu trying to get Pollard to Israel before election, report says

Pollard would land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2 parliamentary election.

By World Israel News Staff 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly is aiming to arrange for former spy Jonathan Pollard to move to Israel just before the upcoming Knesset election.

The premier is trying to set up a scenario in which Pollard would “land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2” parliamentary election, according to a source from Netanyahu’s Likud party cited in Zman Yisrael, the Hebrew-language site of The Times of Israel.

In 1987, the former U.S. intelligence analyst was convicted in a plea agreement of passing Israel critical classified information that the American government had been withholding from its ally. The court then rejected the agreement and gave Pollard a life sentence — the only American to have received such a harsh punishment for giving over secret information to a U.S. ally.

Several attempts were made throughout the years for his release, including by the Israeli government. He was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995.

President Bill Clinton is said to have offered Pollard’s release in exchange for Israeli concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians in 1998, but reneged on his pledge, some say due to pressure from the CIA director. Netanyahu was serving his first term as prime minister at the time.

Pollard was freed in November 2015, in accordance with the guidelines set at his sentencing, including restrictive conditions that do not allow him to even visit Israel, and certainly not move to the Jewish State.

Netanyahu reportedly requested Pollard’s release in October 2017, again relating to goodwill gestures made by Israel to the Palestinians.

In April 2018, Israeli officials said that President Donald Trump was “seriously considering” letting Pollard go, possibly as part of the larger gesture of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in May. Nothing happened then, and a formal Israeli request to the Justice Department was also rejected later in the year.

In February 2019, Pollard told friends that he felt “abandoned” by Netanyahu, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The former American-Israeli spy said that he felt hurt after seeing pictures of Likud campaign posters placed throughout Israel showing Netanyahu with Trump, with both smiling widely, the report says.

If their friendship is so strong, he wonders, why is he still stuck in New York, prevented from moving to Israel after languishing 30 years in a maximum-security prison?

Pollard was speaking then before the April 9 Knesset election. Two elections later, he might, in fact, be allowed to move to Israel, according to the report in Zman Yisrael.