US tells Israel: Pollard's release is still on the table

Indyk tells sides that if deal reached to extend talks, US will consider releasing Israeli agent.

An undated photo of Jonathan Pollard prior to his arrest (photo credit: Justice for Jonathan Pollard)
An undated photo of Jonathan Pollard prior to his arrest
(photo credit: Justice for Jonathan Pollard)
Sources in Jerusalem confirmed Thursday that Israel has presented the Palestinians with a new package aimed at extending peace talks, and the US has not taken the possible release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard off of the table.
A diplomatic source said that "if the Palestinian Authority agrees to stop its plans to join a number of international treaties and conventions, Israel will agree to a new prisoner release package in return for the continuation of negotiations until the end of the year at a minimum."
According to the source, the Palestinians expressed willingness to consider the compromise offer put on the table by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
The emerging deal will allow both sides to "come down from the tree" and appear publicly as if they did not compromise on their positions.
"This is part of the Israeli suggestion which is now being considered by the Palestinian side, while at the same time the US mediator sent a message to Israel - the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from a US prison is still a possibility the US administration will consider, if the sides reach a deal that includes Israel freeing terrorists," the sources said.
The sides are still not close to an agreement due to the Palestinian demand that Israel freeze settlement construction and due to the fact that the details of a new prisoner release deal have not been reached.
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met again in Jerusalem on Thursday, along with US envoy to the peace talks, Martin Indyk.
The Prime Minister's Office emphasized Thursday that "if the PA will not stop its unilateral joining of UN conventions, the prime minister's decision is clear - unilateral steps will be answered by unilateral steps from our side. Some of our responses have already com,e and some are still being prepared and are awaiting approval from the political echelon in the event that they will be necessary."
The Palestinians are threatening further steps in the international arena against Israel. Despite tensions with US Secretary of State John Kerry over his comments earlier this week in which he was perceived to place greater blame for the crisis in negotiations on the Israeli side, sources in Jerusalem said: "The crisis which we are trying to get out of is the full responsibility of the Palestinians , but the prime minister is not interested in a breakdown in talks, and his goal is to seek their extension."
The Palestinian negotiating team sent a similar message to the American mediator Indyk, after he told the sides that the end of the month was the deadline for arriving at a deal to extend the talks.