Former US diplomat Elliot Abrams calls for Pollard's release

Abrams tells i24News that the time has come for Pollard's release

i24News- January 30, 2014

Former US Deputy National Security adviser Elliott Abrams came out in support of releasing jailed American Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an exclusive interview with i24News on Thursday.

The statement comes in the wake of a tide of support from an increasing number of former US officials who have called for Pollard's release. Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, was convicted of passing secrets to Israel and has served 28 years in jail. Successive US administrations have rejected Israeli requests to free him.

"I don't think he's a hero," Abrams told i24, "but the way to judge it is by the normal treatment like other cases of espionage and it's hard to find someone - particularly in the case of a friendly country - that has been imprisoned for 29 years."

"I think that here is a just and a humanitarian case for his release," Abrams said.

Just last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a meeting of his Likud party's Knesset faction that Pollard, "should have been released a long time ago." It was reported that Netanyahu was going to condition future peace negotiations with the Palestinians on Pollards release.

In an interview to the Jerusalem Post in 2009, Abrams had refused to back Pollards clemency, saying, "There are details of his case that have always made his release problematic, and that's all I'm going to say about it".

During his eight years with the Bush administration, Abrams, who is currently a senior fellow at the Washington Council on Foreign Relations, worked on US Mideast policy on a regular basis. In his interview with i24, Abrams was skeptical about the current peace talks being led by John Kerry.

"I believe that a lot more attention should be paid to practical steps on the ground trying to make life better for the Palestinians," Abrams said. "Trying and failing does not make life better for them; it makes the diplomatic process seem unreal and it doesn't help the situation."

He said the prospect for success in this case was "zero. I don't think that everyone should be looking for a comprehensive agreement that leads to the White House lawn and Nobel peace prizes".

Abrams also spoke about the tension between Netanyahu and President Barak Obama, which he partially blamed on Obama for not "engaging in this kind of personal relationships." Abrams claims though, that it has not been exclusive to Netanyahu: "I hear it from Brits and French and Germans and Australians that sense that they had a tighter and more personal relationship with Clinton and Bush than with Obama. It's a fact of life. Presidents are different."

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Video: Elliot Abrams calls for Pollard's Release: i24TV News