Pollard to Netanyahu: Don’t forget me in talks with Trump

Could Pollard be Trump's ticket to redemption in the eyes of the Israeli right?

May 21, 2017 21:33
1 minute read.
Jonathan and Esther Pollard

Jonathan and Esther Pollard. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Jonathan Pollard appealed on Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Don’t forget me during your meeting with US President Donald Trump on Monday.

Pollard made the comments during conversations he held with close friends over the weekend. His wife, Esther, recounted them to The Jerusalem Post.

“As much as Trump needs to be held to his promise to move the embassy, it is just as important that the prime minister keep his promise to bring an agent home,” Pollard reportedly said to the friends during the weekend.

Last week, Pollard appealed US District Judge Katherine Forrest’s decision to keep in place restrictive parole conditions that were imposed when he was released from prison in November, 2015, after serving 30 years of a life sentence for spying for Israel.
Jonathan Pollard freed from prison after 30 years

The conditions prevent Pollard from leaving his New York home after 7 p.m. and before 7 a.m., force him to submit any computer he uses for inspection, and require him to wear a GPS monitoring device that forces him to violate the Sabbath.

The court does not have the power to change the restrictions but can recommend to the parole commission that it ease or cancel them.

On the other hand, Trump could decide to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served or allow him to move to Israel and check in regularly at the American Embassy or the Israeli Justice Ministry.

Politically, now might be a unique window of opportunity for Trump to allow Pollard to move to Israel. In recent weeks, Trump has come under fire over his decision not to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move he promised to make during his campaign. Releasing Pollard would quell such criticism and gain him favor among Jewish conservative supporters.

Netanyahu also stands to gain politically if Pollard moves to Israel. The prime minister would be able to claim that it was he who convinced Trump to release the agent and that, as prime minister, he did not forget Pollard.

Netanyahu would also be able to leverage Pollard’s move to Israel as a way of quieting criticism within his coalition, which is on edge amid reports that Trump will renew his call on Israel to curb settlement construction to jump start peace talks with the Palestinians.

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