December 24, 2013
PM Netanyahu will include release of Israeli spy from American prison as part of talks with Palestinians, according to Israeli officials. Ministers push for spy’s release after disclosure of US tapping on Israel
Following the exposure of US surveillance on top Israeli leaders, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to demand the release of Jonathan Pollard, who has been jailed in US prison for nearly three decades, from American prison as part of negotiation efforts with the Palestinians, Israeli officials estimated.
“With regard to things published in the past few days, I have asked for an examination of the matter,” Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks, in a clear reference to the alleged espionage.
According to undisclosed Israeli officials, Netanyahu’s demand for the release of the Israeli spy through the platform of peace talks with the Palestinians could be executed in one of two ways: A release of the Israeli spy as part of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement pushed by the Americans for next month, or through a deal aimed at releasing Arab-Israeli prisoners. Documents leaked on Friday by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden showed the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ had in 2009 targeted an email address listed as belonging to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and monitored emails of senior defense officials.
On Sunday, several Israeli cabinet members and lawmakers said disclosure of US spying on Israel was an opportunity to press Washington to free jailed Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. Netanyahu informed Likud party members on Monday that he had met with Pollard’s wife Ester “and updated her on our unceasing efforts to free Jonathan.”
Pollard was sentenced to a life term in 1987 in the United States for spying for Israel. A succession of US presidents have spurned Israeli calls for his pardon.
Yuval Karni and Reuters contributed to this report