The Ultimatum - And His Name is Pollard

Yediot Achronot - September 24, 1999

From A Feature Interview with Former Israeli Cabinet Secretary Dani Naveh
by Ainat Berkovitch

[Translated from Hebrew]

About 6 months before the Wye Summit took place, Dani Naveh was appointed to head the government team to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard. Recognizing Pollard as a bona fide Israeli agent was one of the first steps taken under Naveh's leadership.

According to Naveh's new book, Prime Minister Netanyahu received an explicit commitment from President Clinton to free Jonathan Pollard as an integral part of the Wye Accords. Clinton reneged, according to Naveh, right at the last moment of the talks, with the excuse that the head of the CIA would quit. (* N.B. Clinton's recent release of 16 FALN terrorists, despite the opposition of all his government agencies and advisors, proves how spurious this excuse was. See Senate Race Page.)

Naveh's book brings out the feeling on the Israeli side that they were ill-used by Clinton, that he knew all along that he was not going to keep the promise he had given to free Pollard but he kept it to himself until the last moment so as not to ruin the talks. "Right to this day, it is beyond my comprehension why Clinton deceived Netanyahu about this. Why he did not say right from the start that he had a problem with it and that he was not going to free Pollard."

"At the Wye Summit, with the end of the talks, a crisis errupted over Pollard. At the emergency meeting of the ministers that Netanyahyu convened at the time, there were conflicting opinions. Ariel Sharon insisted that Clinton keep his word. Yitzhak Mordecai thought that there was no point in insisting on Pollard's release and blowing the Wye Accords. Netanyahu dug in his heels. He felt deceived by Clinton. Albright, Berger and Indyk all tried to convince the Israeli ministers not to ruin the Wye Accords by insisting on Pollard. Albright even asked me to personally intercede with the Prime Minister to convince him. I explained to her the importance of the issue, and why Pollard's release is so important to the vast majority of Israel's citizens."

"In the end, as you know, in spite of the insistence of Netanyahu, the Israelis gave up on Pollard."

It does not bother Naveh to criticize the lack of initiative on the part of the Barak government on the Pollard issue. "It does not seem to me that the Barak government is doing enough to free him - and I will tell you right away, that this is more how it seems to me rather than because of any factual information.

Yediot Question:

A petition has been filed by Pollard in the High Court. Is that what you are basing your feeling on?


No. I am not familiar with the specifics of the petition. My sense of this is based on the fact that even in the time that I was in charge of the Pollard issue, and I turned to Barak on a number of occasions to ask for his help and his support to work jointly with Netanyahu in dealing with Clinton regarding Pollard, he was unwilling. He would not meet with us on the issue.

Yediot Question:

There are all kinds of hints that Barak may be distancing himself from Pollard because of his role as the head of AMAN (a branch of the Israeli Secret Services) when Pollard was arrested.


I don't think that that is related. It wasn't his responsibility as head of AMAN. I don't think that Barak's reluctance to have anything to do with Pollard is personal. But it is completely beyond my understanding why. I know that even Ofir Pines (Barak's One Israel Party whip) who was very involved in the Pollard issue tried repeatedly in the past to convince Barak to participate on behalf of Pollard, and he was not successful. I hope that his attitude will change now."
See also:
  • Hindsight: Pulling Back the Curtain on Clinton
  • Netanyahu Reveals Clinton Double-Cross on Pollard Release
  • Is Jonathan Pollard a Camp David Bargaining Chip?