Excerpt Knesset Record: MK Yahalom: Invoke Geneva Convention for Pollard

J4JP Release - November 29, 2003
From the Knesset Record of the Plenary Session for Monday, November 24, 2003

Excerpt of Discussion on Jonathan Pollard
Speaker: MK Shaul Yahalom
Translated by J4JP

MK Yahalom is a member of the National Religious Party (NRP) and head of the Knesset's Labor Trade and Commerce Committee.

MK Shaul Yahalom:

Mr. Chairman, Members of Knesset, Jonathan Pollard has languished in an American prison for 18 years. The Government of Israel has officially stated that Jonathan was an Israeli agent handled by senior Israeli officials in an authorized Israeli intelligence bureau, LAKAM, Lishkat Kesher Madaai, of the Defense Ministry.

In the official letter of recognition which was dated May 11, 1998 - the result of a petition to the Supreme Court of Israel - it says, and I am quoting: "In light of this fact, that he was an Israeli agent, the Government of Israel recognizes its obligation to him, and is willing to accept full responsibility for all that flows from that."

It took the Government of Israel 13 years to recognize its responsibility to Jonathan Pollard. Five years have passed since then and we ask ourselves, in what way has this responsibility been expressed on behalf of an agent who served the State and worked on its behalf?

We accuse the Government of Israel of not doing enough for Pollard: it does not demand his release, not through official channels nor through unofficial channels; not even to have him transferred to Israel; it does not support him or his wife financially; and even the few visits that have been made to him in prison under the auspices of the Government have been low level, as if the Government is still trying to deny its responsibility and its obligation.

This is not the way a Government should behave towards an agent whom it has employed and who has served it faithfully for years. This kind of behavior is a negation of human decency and is contrary to our national interest. What kind of message does this send to those who are willing to devote themselves to the service of the State - that we will not stand by them, that we won't fight for them, we will deny their activities, and if caught we will abandon their families?

This is not the way a decent State behaves; it is not the way for us to behave towards our agents and towards those who serve the State, if we have any respect for life.

An example characteristic of this treatment: a few days ago a federal court in the US turned down Jonathan Pollard's request [for his attorneys] to have access to the secret documents that resulted in his life sentence, [and his request] for a retrial.

Before the decision was handed down, the Israeli Consul in New York, Ilan Pinkus was interviewed on television and he said the following: "Jonathan Pollard was not an Israeli agent and his actions embarrassed Israel."

The Israeli Consul did not speak the truth. I have already cited the State's response to BaGatz (Supreme Court Petition) Number 2633/97: "Jonathan Pollard was an Israel agent and the Government of Israel recognizes its obligation to him and is prepared to accept full responsibility for all that flows from that."

[Chairman] MK Nissim Dahan:

We already know how one department has no idea what is going on in another department.

MK Shaul Yahalom:

But not this time. This kind of declaration is typical of the behavior of the State of Israel in this case - both accepting responsibility and denying it, at one and the same time.

Let me review some of the things said by previous speakers. Jonathan Pollard did not have a trial. He accepted a plea agreement so as not to hurt Israel, the country that sent him. The Court did not uphold the plea agreement and gave him a life sentence, for the most part because of a declaration by then Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger.

Revelations and truths are surfacing more and more, Mr. Chairman, which reveal that Pollard was a scapegoat blamed by intelligence officials in the US for their failures, for the exposure of American agents in the Soviet Union and for the American support given to Saudi Arabia even though the Saudis were the prime supporter of world terror groups, at the head of which was Bin Laden and Al Qeda. It is possible that American Intelligence was seized by fear of the possibility that the truth would come out, that it - American intelligence - had not properly dealt with Bin Laden or the main supporter of terror, Saudi Arabia, and that is why the Twin Towers disaster was not prevented. It was easier to hide these things in clouds of accusation, which heaped the blame on Pollard, as if he had exposed American agents, when in fact not only did he NOT do this, he did not even have access to lists of the agents names.

We hold that according the 3rd Geneva Convention, clause 4 subsection 2b it is given to define Pollard as a Prisoner of War held in a non-hostile country. His rights according to the Convention are far more than those of a common criminal, including the right not to be housed with common criminals and the obligation of the US to return him to Israel in accord with the conditions of the Convention.

We call upon the Government of Israel to desist from its dishonorable behavior, and to take all necessary political steps on behalf of Pollard. This is not the place to detail what the Government should do, but it certainly can do much more, all it has to do is to decide to act!

We call upon the Government to enlist on behalf of Jonathan Pollard.

Mr. Prime Minister, recently we have seen how much you and your Government were willing to do on behalf of another Israeli Citizen who was not even in the service of the State or on an official mission. Now, please turn your attention to and direct the efforts of all branches of your government to rescue an Israeli agent who served the State with devotion.

Eht achinu anachnu mivaksheem! It is our brother whom we seek!

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