Edelstein confirms Pollard release discussions underway

High-level discussions in Israel on how to get clemency in the US for Israeli agent; Knesset panel to invite US envoy to hearing on the matter.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
October 18, 2010 01:32
4 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard 58 USE THIS. (photo credit: Courtesy)

There have recently been high-level discussions in Israel on how to get clemency in the US for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, who has served nearly 25 years of a life sentence, Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein revealed on Sunday night.

The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively on Sunday that Pollard’s American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, had filed a new petition for clemency on Friday, asking that US President Barack Obama commute Pollard’s life sentence to the time he has already served.

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The petition came amid a wave of calls for the release of the Israeli agent and following new revelations of apparent US government malfeasance made public by senior officials with firsthand involvement in the case – former minister Rafi Eitan and former US assistant secretary of defense Lawrence J. Korb.

Pollard complained to the Post last week that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had not asked Obama to grant him clemency.

But Edelstein suggested that active efforts are indeed under way.

“I would say very cautiously, because we have suffered disappointments in the past, that there is some change in the atmosphere due to the developments with Korb and Eitan,” Edelstein said.

“It’s some 20 years late, but I think a positive move can now happen. It requires urgent steps by the prime minister and the president. I will do everything in my power to urge them to act and to help persuade congressmen and senators in Washington if it comes to that.”

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss wrote a critical report on the Pollard affair last year, much of which was classified. The Knesset State Control Committee, which initiated Lindenstrauss’s investigation, will hold a meeting on the subject in the next two or three weeks.


Committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said he would write to US Ambassador James Cunningham on Monday to invite him to testify on the matter.

“In light of what the state comptroller wrote about the handling of Pollard by the American justice system and what Eitan and Korb said, the ambassador should come to our committee to explain things from the American perspective,” Hasson said.

In a statement released Monday morning, Esther Pollard wrote that "Jonathan and I find Minister Edelstein's 'revelations' disturbing."

"Minster Edelstein reveals that high level talks about Pollard have been going on in Israel only!" Esther wrote. "In other words, at best, the Israelis have only been talking amongst themselves about Pollard 's release and not to the Americans. This is yet another confirmation of what Jonathan Pollard relayed to the Post a week ago, indicating, 'Our American sources in Washington have confirmed that in recent weeks Prime Minister Netanyahu has not asked President Obama to release me ... Our American sources in Washington have also confirmed that I have not been been on the agenda at all in recent contacts between the Netanyahu administration and the American administration.'"

Esther continued: "While Edelstein declares that urgent steps are required by the Prime Minister to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard, he clearly indicates that at present no such steps are being taken by the Prime Minister. Additionally, Edelstein does not express any confidence that the Prime Minister will indeed act. Instead Edelstein states, that he will 'do everything in [his] power to urge them to act.' This is yet another confirmation of the lack of initiative and involvement on the part of the Government of Israel to rescue an agent in peril, after 25 years in captivity."

"The proposal that the American Ambassador will be invited to testify before the Knesset Oversight Committee about the Pollard case is ludicrous," added Pollard's wife. "While it sounds impressive, historically, there has never been a case of an American Ambassador testifying before a such committee. Moreover, even if his government were to agree, such a move would do nothing to further Jonathan's release. Wrong address. Wrong parties!"

"In light of recent revelations of US government malfeasance and in light of Jonathan's dire situation after 25 years in captivity, this is not the way a government seeks clemency for its agent. It is a way to silence the wave of support and public expectation. The worst thing would be to undermine the urgency of seeking Jonathan's immediate release by burying it once again in committee."

"The bottom line is," continued Esther, "Clemency for Jonathan Pollard can only be supported and expedited at the Prime Ministerial level in direct contacts with the American Administration at Presidential level. The time is long past for Knesset Committees and internal discussions which only serve  as window-dressing to fool the public into believing that positive action is being taken."


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