Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the cabinet meeting 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Politicians from across the political spectrum renewed their call for the United
States to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard Sunday, following revelations
that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had spied on Israeli
The revelations gave momentum to the effort to encourage US
President Barack Obama to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the 28 years he has
served. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a point of saying that Israel
did not need an excuse to deal with Pollard’s release.
“We do not need a
special incident to talk about the release of Jonathan Pollard,” Netanyahu said
at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“We, I am dealing with this
with every US president, including with President Obama all the time, including
Netanyahu said he hoped that the circumstances would be created
that would enable “bringing Jonathan home” to Israel.
“This is not
conditional nor connected to recent events, even though we gave our opinion on
these matters,” Netanyahu said, hinting that there was a private government
reaction to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations.
however, neither the Prime Minister’s Office, the Foreign Ministry, nor the
Defense Ministry were commenting on the leaked documents.
Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) and ministers spoke out on the reports
that in 2009, the NSA and its British equivalent, the General Communications
Headquarters, hacked into the emails of former prime minister Ehud Olmert and
former defense minister Ehud Barak.
Edelstein assailed Washington for
“hypocrisy,” saying that “this is a severe case and I hope this is the iceberg
rather than the tip of the iceberg, because otherwise, this case is liable to do
damage to our relations with the US.”
“For 28 years, the US
administration has been preaching to Israel about the danger and the lack of
trust that results from spying on allies and today it turns out the shoe is on
the other foot,” the speaker said. “There is no other way to characterize it
other than hypocrisy.”
Transportation and Road Safety Minister Israel
Katz (Likud Beytenu) released a statement asking, “Is this how friends treat
“Pollard was arrested for much less,” Katz said, demanding an
American statement vowing to put an end to the surveillance and to immediately
release Pollard in light of the most recent revelations.
leader Isaac Herzog said he made a point of bringing up Pollard in his recent
meetings with top American leaders in Washington.
“Pollard’s sentence has
long passed the limits of sensibility,” Herzog wrote on his Facebook page. “We
must act through the correct and discreet channels to end this situation and
bring about his quick release."
Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked, who heads
the parliamentary lobby devoted to advancing the cause of Pollard’s release,
said on Sunday that “the most recent revelations about spying and surveillance
by the US against its ally needs to light a red light of morality for any
“There needs to be reciprocity in any relationship
between countries,” Shaked said. “It is inconceivable that while Pollard has
been rotting in an American prison for decades for spying, which was considered
an unforgivable crime by the American government, we are now informed that the
US has been spying against Israel, and this is just swept under the
rug.”Lahav Harkov and Ariel Zilber contributed to this report.