Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard remains in an American jail in part because of a
mistaken theory in the US Justice Department and FBI that he had an accomplice
whom Israel has refused to name, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told The
Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
Ayalon, who was the first Israeli ambassador to
the US who visited Pollard, speculated that the same mistake persuaded former
CIA director George Tenet to block a deal for Pollard’s freedom that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had reached with then-US president Bill Clinton when
the Wye River Accords were signed in 1998.
“The FBI wanted to keep
Pollard as a hostage until Israel gave them his partner,” Ayalon said. “There of
course was no partner, and the charge is totally outrageous, yet it is difficult
to shake. This unrealistic and stupid suspicion could be one explanation as to
why he is still in jail after so many years when others who did much more damage
spying for real enemies have gotten out.”
Ayalon called it a mystery why
Pollard is still in prison. He said the Pollard case “strikes a chord of
irrationality” with top American officials.
He recalled that after
visiting Pollard in 2005, he asked US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice what
needed to be done to bring about his release. She replied “Don't even go
Lamenting “yet another missed opportunity,” Ayalon said during
Passover would have been an ideal time for US President Barack Obama to commute
Pollard’s life sentence to the 26.5 years he has already served. He vowed to
continue talking to American officials in an effort to persuade them of
Pollard’s just cause.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expressed optimism
Wednesday that President Shimon Peres would succeed in bringing Pollard home
ahead of the June 13 ceremony in which Peres will receive the Presidential Medal
of Freedom from Obama. Rivlin blamed Pollard’s continued incarceration on
“American Jews who abandoned him and who think Pollard is lucky that he did not
receive the death penalty.”
Pollard’s wife Esther received a visit on
Tuesday from Labor Party Knesset candidate Noam Schalit, whose son Gilad was
held captive in the Gaza Strip.
Schalit said he came to strengthen Esther
Pollard and offer her advice and support.
Gilad Schalit and his parents
have signed a petition calling on Peres to do everything possible to bring about
Pollard’s release before he receives the medal. Almost 40,000 people have signed
“Who knows more than Gilad about what Jonathan Pollard is
going through?” Noam Schalit said. “Gilad is sure that Pollard paid a heavy
price and served more than enough time. We waited just five years for
Esther Pollard told Noam Schalit that she had a similar task of
constantly reminding people that her husband is alive and that everything
possible is needed to bring him home. She said that she and her husband had
prayed for Gilad Schalit’s freedom every day.
Jonathan Pollard has been
hospitalized for various ailments since before the Passover holiday began on
Friday. Esther Pollard said his condition had improved Wednesday but he still
had a long way to go. “There is no cause for rejoicing yet,” she said.