Clinton 'Peace Offering' - Jonathan Pollard?

Week of April 21 - Hadassah Schwartz - The Jewish Press

Jonathan Pollard's release may be part of a final-status agreement with the Palestinians, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported last week.

According to the report, Prime Minister Barak and President Clinton negotiated a deal for Pollard's release at their summit in Washington last week, and sources close to Barak expect Pollard's release to occur around September of this year. Pollard, a former civilian analyst for the U.S. Navy, was convicted of spying for Israel and is serving a life sentence.

Clinton is reportedly prepared to release Pollard as a "sweetener" to help Barak sell the Israeli public on the idea of freeing Palestinian murderers of Jews as part of any final deal.

Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub, dismissed the report and charged that Pollard's release is being used to force Israelis to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians.

He pointed out that former Israeli leaders agreed to concessions in return for Pollard's release, only to see those promises fizzle out. "Ever since Clinton first promised Yitzhak Rabin that he would release Pollard in return for further Israeli concessions, Israel has dutifully made painful concessions again and again, but Pollard remains in prison."

Denying Yediot's report, Barak's office stated that "President Clinton and Prime Minister Barak did not conclude anything in the matter of Jonathan Pollard." Left unsaid was whether or not Pollard's release was discussed.

Pollard said through a spokesman that the supposed deal is clearly a public relations stunt, otherwise it wouldn't have been flashed to the media before any actual release.

Dub recalled that when Clinton agreed to Pollard's release as part of the Wye accords and then decided to renege, "the story of a deal for Pollard was skillfully leaked to the Israeli media. The ensuing media hype drew all of our enemies out.

"This was calculated to assist Clinton in backing down on his promise. Pretty much the same as what is happening now."

Pollard's attorney added that if Barak didn't leak the story to the media, it is the prime minister's obligation to launch a full scale investigation to uncover who was responsible.