YNET reports 'Free Barghouti for Pollard' initiative

Jewish-American figures reportedly urge PA to promote exchange deal; Pollard's wife: This was never an option

Ali Waked - YNET News - April 23, 2009

Jewish-American figures have asked the Palestinian Authority to promote an exchange deal that would include Pollard as well as Fatah-Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.

Pollard's wife, Esther, denied that she or the organization fighting for Pollard's release have any connection to such letter.

* Read the letter here.

According to the report, the figures reputedly turned to Barghouti's associates, including his wife, as well as Kadura Fares, who heads the Palestinian Authority's committee for prisoner affairs.

The inquiry was also forwarded to senior PA officials. The request urged the PA to formulate a proposal to be submitted to United States President Barack Obama before his upcoming meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The letter stressed that such deal could boost the status of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and other moderate PA figures at Hamas' expense and would be perceived as great American support for the Palestinians.

Barghouti's aides reportedly rejected the initiative. The affiliates said that they view him as the leader of the Palestinian people and his release should not be tied with that of a spy like Pollard.

'No need to release terrorists'

The aides also said that they should play no part in an issue that is between Israel and the United States. Senior Palestinian officials said the PA would not comment on the document in question and that the Barghouti matter was being handled through official diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, Esther Pollard told Ynet that the price for releasing her husband was already paid, via the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in the Wye Agreement, without Pollard's agreement or approval.

"A letter has not been sent [by our people], and this initiative was never an option," she said. "There is no need to release any other terrorist. As long as the government of Israel fails to request Jonathan's release, the Americans are left with a wonderful bargaining chip that can be used time and again."

Pollard's wife slammed the Israeli government for "acting foolishly," noting that "as long as it remains silent for 25 years and doesn't ask for his release, the Americans understand Israel's fear and raise Jonathan's price. The bottom line is that there is only one reason to free Jonathan - it's a matter of simple justice and it's long overdue."

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