Netanyahu and Obama shake hands at start of Oval Office meeting, March 3, 2013.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
If the Obama administration thought about freeing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an effort to entice Israel to show more flexibility in the negotiations with the Palestinians, it will have to take into consideration the fierce objections of both Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
According to The Daily Beast news site, high-ranking members of both parties have strong objections to freeing Pollard in a proposed deal that would include Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners and a continuation of peace talks through the end of this year.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D – California) told The Daily Beast that releasing Pollard at this stage – without any sign of a final-status deal between Israel and the Palestinians on the horizon – was a mistake.
“This was a major betrayal and I’ve followed it over the years. It’s one thing if there’s an agreement. It’s another thing totally if there isn’t,” she told The Daily Beast. Feinstein would not say what legislative measures – if any – she would pursue in order to prevent the administration from following through on the proposed deal.
Another influential lawmaker, Republican Saxby Chambliss, is quoted in the report as saying that he opposed Pollard’s release altogether.
“I think he’s done a lot of harm to America and I just don’t think he should be released,” the Georgia Republican said.
Both Republican and Democratic figures as well as retired statesmen have urged the Obama administration to pardon Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
Sen. John McCain said on Tuesday that he supports releasing Pollard on the merits of the case, though he did not agree with using Pollard as an enticement to move the peace process forward.
"It's disgusting," McCain said. "I favor his release, I think he's served long enough, but to be used in this fashion, it's disgraceful."