Pollard Denied Israeli Citizenship

Shawn Cohen, Staff writer WJN; and Naomi Segal, JTA
Washington Jewish News - September 14, 1995


- Israel has rejected a request to grant citizenship to Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence in the United States for spying for Israel.

Interior Minister Ehud Barak said in a letter to Pollard's attorney, Mordecai Offry, that he denied the request. Barak, until last year Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, said he acted after studying the petition of Pollard's wife, Esther Zeitz-Pollard, and after holding a series of consultations on the matter.

Esther Pollard had based her petition on a clause in Section 2 of Israel's 1952 Citizenship Law. The law grants state protection to people who want to immigrate to Israel but whose effort to do so, or shows identification with Israel, is forbidden in their countries of origin.

In the past, Israel applied the law to immigration activists and "Prisoners of Zion" in the former Soviet Union.

But Barak said the circumstances of Pollard's case were not consistent with the traditional use of the law. He said he would be willing to meet with Esther Pollard to discuss the matter.

Esther Pollard said she contacted her husband in prison shortly after the denial was announced. "While he is disappointed that the Government of Israel has shown so little integrity in dealing with Jonathan in this matter, he is not surprised by the decision," she said.

"Jonathan feels that history is repeating itself, that this decision is tantamount to his being thrown out of the embassy once again, 10 years later, in public view," she added. "Only this time, they are throwing him out of the country itself while publicly declaring that he is fair game."

Attorney Larry Dub, lead defense counsel in the Pollard case, said he is appealing the ministerial ruling to the Israeli Supreme Court.

"The decision by Israel is consistent with the policy of abandonment of Pollard over the last 10 years," said Dub, who has represented Pollard for two years and was selected lead counsel last month after Nancy Luque was fired by Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard was an American civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he was arrested in November 1985 outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington by FBI agents who had him and his first wife, Anne, under surveillance. Pollard later pleaded guilty to spying on behalf of Israel and was sentenced in 1987 - despite what he thought was a plea bargain accepted by the U.S. government - to life in prison.

Pollard will be eligible for parole first in November. But Esther Pollard, who filed citizenship papers in Israel on behalf of her husband in July, said Jonathan Pollard has delayed his parole hearing "on the advice of his attorney and top American parole experts." She did not identify the experts.

In an Aug. 1 news release, Esther Pollard claimed that Israel's granting of citizenship to her husband would signal the Jewish state's willingness to accept responsibility for him.

  • See also: The Information Page