July 23, 2013
Israel has requested the United States release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollardin return for freeing 103 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails since before the Oslo Accords, Channel 2 reported Monday evening.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly made the request to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as a quid pro quo for the Palestinians’ demand that the prisoners be released before renewing peace talks. They Americans rejected the request but said it will be taken into consideration.
The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu “has consistently brought up the issue of Jonathan Pollard’s release in his meetings with senior American officials.”
Pollard, a Jewish American, pleaded guilty in 1987 to passing classified information to Israel while working as an American civilian intelligence analyst. He received a life sentence.
Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres have approached U.S. President Barack Obama several times over the past four years to request he pardon Pollard. Until now, Obama has rejected the requests and stated that Pollard will receive a fair hearing in front of a parole committee review set to take place in 2015.
This week or next Sunday at the latest, the government will convene to authorize the release of 82 Palestinian prisoners Israel has agreed to set free from the list of 103 prisoners provided by the Palestinian Authority.
At the meeting, ministers are expected to grant Netanyahu the power to set the timing of the prisoners’ release. The plan at this stage is to release the prisoners in four groups, one group every two months.