Knesset votes down Pollard release plan

Bill included appointment of minister to head release effort and public relations campaign in Israel, US.

pollard passport 248.88 (photo credit: Brian Hendler)
pollard passport 248.88
(photo credit: Brian Hendler)
A new bill that would establish a plan to release jailed spy Jonathan Pollard was voted down in the Knesset Wednesday. The bill would have set up a three-pronged effort, including the appointment of a special minister to head the release effort and public relations campaign in Israel and America. The government opposed the bill in its first reading, allowing it to fall in a vote of 43 against and 32 in favor. "Kadima and Olmert are not interested in endangering the security of Israel, but also that of Jonathan Pollard," said MK Gilad Erdan (Likud), who initiated the bill. "Olmert is unable to do what it takes and issue a strong request to return [Pollard]." This week marked the 22nd anniversary of Pollard's conviction in the United States on charges of spying for Israel. In 1986, Pollard pleaded guilty, waiving his right to a trial in return for restrictions on sentencing. Israel publicly denied that Pollard was an Israeli spy until 1998, when he was granted Israeli citizenship and recognized by Israel as an agent. Earlier this week, MK Zevulen Orlev (NU-NRP) requested that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss investigate the Pollard case and consider intervening on Pollard's behalf. Orlev said that the State Comptroller Committee, which he heads, would vote on an official resolution asking Lindenstrauss to prepare a report on why Israel has not managed to secure Pollard's release. MK Estherina Tartman (Israel Beiteinu) also raised the issue of Pollard's release earlier this week, arguing that instead of releasing Palestinian prisoners, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should consider focusing his efforts on Israeli citizens.