WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration considers releasing Jonathan Pollard an option in its limited toolkit on how to handle floundering peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
But while the decision of whether to release him now rests with US President Barack Obama, he has not yet made up his mind, one US source told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Pollard's fate is now "on the president's desk," the official said.
"The president has not made a decision to release Jonathan Pollard," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday. "There are obviously a lot of things happening in that arena, and I'm not going to get ahead of discussions that are under way."
Both Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate expressed deep skepticism at the prospect of Pollard's release on Tuesday.
“This was a major betrayal and I’ve followed it over the years," Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the intelligence committee, told The Daily Beast. "It’s one thing if there’s an agreement. It’s another thing totally if there isn’t." Her Republican counterpart, Senator Saxby Chambliss, said that the US should never release Pollard, who he said had done "a lot of harm to America."
An American convicted of espionage in 1980s, Pollard, 59, was sentenced to life imprisonment for passing US intelligence to Israel. Violation of the Espionage Act usually carries a decade-long prison sentence.