Pollard Cancels Visit with Israeli Envoy

August 4, 1997 - The Jerusalem Post - Batsheva Tsur

JERUSALEM - Jonathan Pollard, serving a life sentence for spying on the US for Israel, has cancelled a visit with an Israeli Embassy official in the wake of Justice Minister Tzahi Hanegbi's suggestion that he be transferred to an Israeli jail.

"While the government of Israel is busy stabbing me in the back," Pollard said in a letter to the Israeli ambassador to Washington, he would not meet with an Israeli official.

The visit, which the embassy initiated and scheduled to coincide with Pollard's 43rd birthday on Thursday, would have been the first-ever by an embassy official. Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship last July after he petitioned the High Court of Justice.

Pollard wrote that Hanegbi's remarks, suggesting he serve the remainder of his sentence in an Israeli jail, were "fraudulent ... calculated and without honor." Hanegbi, who was referring to a new law which makes possible prisoner transfers, said last night that "Israel will respect Pollard's wishes and in any event will only act on the subject [the prison transfer] if he puts in a request.

"Pollard first has to complete a formal request before Israel would take any action," he added. "At all events, the Israeli government has done and will do everything possible to free Pollard and bring him to Israel as a free citizen."

How could Hanegbi suggest, Pollard wrote, "returning a Prisoner of Zion to Zion in chains? It was this same cold-blooded cynicism that was evidenced when the government of Israel threw me, an Israeli agent, out of the embassy" 13 years ago. He added that the current government has "escalated ... the degree of cold-blooded calculation and cynicism."

It would take years before a prisoner-exchange accord between the US and Israel was formalized, and Israel would not be able to legally parole Pollard without American consent, Pollard's wife, Esther Zeitz-Pollard, added in a statement.

Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein recently went on record calling for Pollard's release. Rubinstein noted that Pollard had already served 12 years and said the sentence was extremely severe.

Meanwhile, Pollard's Jerusalem lawyer, Larry Dubb, said yesterday that the High Court had not yet announced when it would hear a petition Pollard filed against the Israeli government. The state attorney has agreed to an expedited hearing on the petition, which was filed three months ago.

The petition asks the court to order the prime minister to declare Pollard was an Israeli agent and to reveal who was in charge of handling his case from the Israeli side. It also calls for an injunction ordering the government to state what sums have been paid to Pollard and to reveal details of an alleged Swiss bank account.

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