Efforts to bring about the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard before Passover will not stop due to the current problems in the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians, well-placed sources said Thursday.
The Palestinians issued new demands from Israel, which formally delayed the fourth round of Palestinian prisoner releases. The US, which had agreed this week to release Pollard as a gesture to Israel, publicly reprimanded the Israelis and Palestinians for peace talks being stalled.
Nevertheless, efforts to bring about Pollard’s release will only intensify, in hopes that the Americans, Palestinians and Israelis have too much at stake to let the negotiations end.
The sources were uplifted by the effort’s revelation that the US did not oppose Pollard’s release on principle and was merely holding him as a bargaining chip.
The sources said they were also satisfied that a cabinet majority for an agreement that could bring Pollard home existed despite opposition from Bayit Yehudi.
The Jerusalem Post reported this week that Pollard would not turn down an opportunity to receive presidential commutation of his life sentence as part of an agreement in which Palestinian and Israeli prisoners are released.
Top former American security officials called this week for Pollard to be released without regard to the state of talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
Former CIA chief Michael Hayden said he opposed a political agreement in which hundreds of Palestinian prisoners would be released.
He said Pollard should instead be released on humanitarian grounds.
“The man has spent a quarter-century in jail,” Hayden told Newsmax. “He had a plea bargain between himself and the prosecutors that the judge threw out. He got a particularly harsh sentence. So if you’ve got a humanitarian question here, look at it in due time as a humanitarian question.”
US Navy R.-Adm. (ret.) Norman Hayes said the time had come to release Pollard regardless of whether there will be an agreement.
“This is not how the game is played,” he said.
“His release should not have ties with the release of Palestinians prisoners by the Israelis.”