Update on Pollard and the Prisoner Releases
Justice4JP Release - July 7, 2003
The Israeli Cabinet yesterday ratified Prime Minister Sharon's plan to free hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners in a gesture made in response to U.S. pressure aimed at strengthening P.A. Prime Minister Abbas. Cabinet approval of the gesture has created much speculation as to whether Jonathan Pollard is a part of the formula for the prisoner releases.
Natan Zahavi of Israel TV Channel 2 News put the question about Pollard and Azzam Azzam to Israeli negotiator, attorney Amnon Zichroni, this morning (Channel 2 Morning Show 07/07/03). Zichroni responded that Jonathan Pollard and Azzam Azzam have no direct connection to the Palestinian prisoners so they are not linked to the release of the security prisoners.
Zahavi pressed the matter and asked if it were possible to make the connection so that Azzam Azzam and Pollard might be included in this massive release of prisoners. Zichroni responded that the "situation" indeed makes such linkage possible.
Yediot Achronot's Itamar Eichner reported today (07/07/03) that Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu raised the issue at a meeting of the Cabinet yesterday. According to Yediot Achronot, Netanyahu suggested using the Palestinian prisoner releases to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard and Azzam Azzam and P.M. Sharon rejected the proposal out of hand. Sharon also rejected Netanyahu's suggestion that some time-limited condition be attached to the Palestinian prisoner releases to ensure a cessation of terror activities against Israel.
This week the Pollards received confirmation from an independent source that President Bush's repeated request to Egypt's Mubarak to free Azzam Azzam has effectively linked the fate of the two prisoners. Mubarak, the Pollards were told, made it clear to Bush, "The US must first free its own Israeli prisoner, Pollard."
Jonathan Pollard's attorney, Larry Dub, told reporters this morning that the Pollard / Azzam Azzam equation is so obvious that it is inescapable. He noted that Israel's failure to secure the release of Pollard, which would enable Mubarak to release Azzam Azzam, while freeing hundreds of security prisoners at the request of the United States, is unconscionable. Dub noted that Washington sources confirm as recently as this morning that since Sharon has taken office, Israel has made no request to the U.S. to release Jonathan Pollard.
Esther Pollard adds, "We are not suggesting that Jonathan's freedom be obtained by the release of these terrorists. What we are advocating is that Israel live up to its responsibility to its agent, Jonathan Pollard, by collecting on his release as promised by the United States as an integral part of the Wye Accords *[See Footnote 1 below]. President Mubarak has made it clear to both Bush and Sharon that the release of Jonathan Pollard will also facilitate Egypt's release of Azzam Azzam. What is Sharon waiting for?"
1. Excerpt From The Knesset Record, February 28, 2001: "...The former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, made an explicit commitment to the then-Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, to release Jonathan Pollard. ... This promise was made prior to the Wye Summit and [again] during the course of the negotiations at Wye... This was not a personal promise made to a particular prime minister... This was a promise made to the State of Israel and to the People of Israel..." Statement of Dani Naveh, Minister without Portfolio [N.B. Naveh is currently Minister of Health.]