Former US ambassadors change mind on Pollard

If releasing Pollard would assist in reaching a framework deal, peace is more important than keeping him in jail, they say. Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - January 7, 2014

Two former American ambassadors to Israel who had opposed clemency for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard changed their minds, according to a story published exclusively by the Walla News web site.

The web site spoke to Sam Lewis, who served as ambassador until 1985 when Pollard was arrested in Washington, and Thomas Pickering, who as Lewis' replacement dealt with the arrest's aftermath. Both veteran diplomats are considered close to Kerry and strongly support his current efforts to reach an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Related:

"I've been opposed to releasing Pollard for a long time, but if you said that such a step would assist reaching a framework, in a fundamental way - I would support that," Pickering said. "He did some really bad things to us and I don't accept the Israeli 'protest' over his arrest, but reaching a framework for peace is so much more important than keeping this guy in jail. Diplomats take challenges and make them into opportunities."

Lewis said he supports US president Barack Obama commuting Pollard's sentence on humanitarian grounds. Though he is connected with J Street and other left-wing groups, he said he did not see a connection between Pollard and the peace process and that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a mistake when he made such a connection in the past.

"He betrayed us, and I am glad he sat in prison, but 28 years is enough time," Lewis said. "Even if he may get out in two years from now, I think there is something compelling about the appeal by more than 100 Members of Knesset to Obama to free him now."

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  • See Also: Senior US Ambassadors change their position: Free Pollard - Amir Tibon - Walla News