Barak Reverses Stand, Grants Pollard Israeli Citizenship

November 22, 1995 - Batsheva Tsur, Evelyn Gordon & Marilyn Henry
The Jerusalem Post

Jonathan Pollard has been granted Israeli citizenship, Interior Minister Ehud Barak announced yesterday.

In his letter to Pollard's lawyer, Barak wrote that the government has acted in the past and will continue to act on Pollard's behalf.

He made the decision following a renewed request from Pollard's lawyer and after the ministry's legal adviser, Shalom Zinger, received further clarifications and details about it and held consultations with other authorities.

Esther Pollard said her husband was "absolutely delighted and very happy" when she called him in jail to inform him of the decision, according to the Associated Press.

She added that the decision to grant Pollard citizenship would enable Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres to "seek a gesture from Clinton in honor of the late prime minister Rabin, to fulfill Rabin's last request to free Jonathan Pollard."

Pollard requested Israeli citizenship earlier this year, but was turned down by the Interior Ministry which said Israel normally only grants citizenship to non-residents whose countries do not allow aliya.

The case went to the High Court of Justice, which ruled on October 25 that the government had 30 days to explain its decision. Instead of appearing before the High Court, Barak reversed his position.

"We are confident that from now on the Israeli government will act to free the citizen Jonathan Pollard in the same way it deals with other POW's and MIA's," Pollard's lawyer, Gidi Frishtik, said in response to the decision.

In South Bend, Indiana, Jonathan's mother Molly Pollard, heard the news of the citizenship from The Jerusalem Post. "If it has actually happened, we are delighted because that is what he wanted," she said.

Jonathan's ex-wife, Anne Pollard, who now lives in Tel Aviv, said last night: "I am very happy because today is exactly 10 years since Jonathan and I were thrown out of the Israeli embassy in Washington. It's a very painful day for both of us and I hope the decision will bring some sunshine into Jonathan's life."

Anne Pollard said she hoped Peres, who was premier when the incident took place, would raise the issue with Clinton in the near future. "In the wake of the tragic assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, it is clear that President Clinton is the best friend that Israel could have," she added.

Justice Minister David Liba'i praised Barak's decision. Pollard, he said, deserves Israeli citizenship as a token of gratitude for the fact that he sacrificed his life for Israel's security.

In addition, Liba'i said, this decision is a way of expressing Israel's dismay at the severity of the punishment Pollard received, despite the fact that he cooperated with his investigators, and in defiance of the plea bargain he made with the prosecutors.