pollard protest 298 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
US Ambassador Richard Jones's apology late Monday evening for saying that the US showed clemency to Jonathan Pollard by not executing him is being viewed in Jerusalem as an attempt to keep the issue from "spiraling out of control."
In a rare written statement, Jones said, "I apologize for the remarks I made this morning regarding the case of Mr. Jonathan Pollard, which were misinformed and misleading."
The ambassador said the comments did not reflect his personal views, or those of the Bush administration.
"I certainly do not personally believe that Mr. Pollard should have received capital punishment, and I was appalled to learn that I had given that impression," the statement read. "I regret any distress that I may have caused Mr. Pollard's family and loved ones."
While Jones's comments led to calls for his dismissal from some politicians on the Right, they did not elicit any formal Israeli government response.
A few US Jewish groups contacted Jones privately on Monday to protest his statements, and some viewed his apology as an attempt to keep them from becoming a domestic issue in the US.
Jones, speaking at a Bar-Ilan University conference, said Monday Pollard's crimes appeared especially heinous to many Americans because he was caught spying for a friendly power.
"It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country," Jones said. "The fact that he wasn't executed is the [only] mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."