Sources involved in the efforts to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard cautioned against giving up hope Wednesday, despite discouraging statements by US State Department officials.
The sources noted that State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki merely said that “there are currently no plans to release Jonathan Pollard” and did not deny that a deal for Pollard could happen over the next few days.
“There hasn’t been a credible denial, because the ‘currently’ addendum [in Psaki’s statement] is a calculated qualification,” one of the sources said.
The sources said that in years of efforts to bring about Pollard’s release, there had never been a situation in which the Israelis, Palestinians and Americans all required Pollard’s release for their own internal reasons.
“Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that there are still intense discussions and negotiations going on behind the scenes, in which the Pollard issue remains front and center,” the sources said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) said he would support a deal in which Pollard is released by the US as a gesture to soften opposition in the cabinet to releasing Israeli Arab prisoners, although he does not get to vote. But Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu), who voted against the past prisoner releases, said he would still vote against the deal if Pollard was included.
Two ministers who intended to vote against the release of Israeli Arab prisoners would vote in favor if Pollard is included, a source close to the ministers revealed. Those two ministers would be enough to swing the vote and pass it.
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