Spy Says Minister Introduced 'bogus' Transfer Plan

Pollard snubs Israel amid 'back-stabbing' allegation

J.J. Goldberg, New York - The London Jewish Chronicle - August 15, 1997

Jonathan Pollard, the American Jew serving life in prison for spying for Israel, has cancelled a scheduled prison visit by an Israeli embassy official and asked that no further visits be scheduled.

It would have been the first visit by an Israeli official since the former US Navy intelligence analyst's arrest in 1985.

In a letter to Israeli ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar informing him of the cancellation, Pollard accused the Israeli government of "stabbing me in the back."

He cited a recent speech by Justice Minister Tsachi Hanegbi, calling for Pollard to be transferred to an Israeli prison to complete his life sentence.

"Only a government without honor would publicize a bogus prisoner transfer plan which they knew full well was not viable," Pollard wrote.

According to Pollard's wife, Esther Zeitz-Pollard, there is no US-Israeli accord permitting the sort of transfer proposed by Mr. Hanegbi. It would take years to negotiate and implement such an agreement, she told the JC.

Mrs. Pollard, a Canadian Jewish activist who became his second wife in a 1993 prison ceremony, accused the Israelis of deliberately raising the idea in order to create an impression that it was acting on Pollard's behalf.

She said Mr. Hanegbi himself had been warned not to pursue this proposal after he first raised it a year ago, and had promised an MK that he would not repeat it just two days before raising it on he floor of the Knesset in late July.

An unnamed embassy official was scheduled to visit Pollard on August 7, his 43rd birthday, at the federal prison in North Carolina, where he is serving a life sentence without parole. The visit had been initiated by the embassy.

Pollard was arrested in November 1985, by federal agents while seeking asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington. Charged with passing classified documents to Israel over a period of 13 months, he pleaded guilty in exchange for a government promise of leniency. He was sentenced in March 1987, to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors later claimed he had received the maximum sentence because he had not kept his promise to co-operate with investigators. [J4JP: Not true! It is a documented part of the court record that Jonathan cooperated fully with the government.] The government has continued to oppose his release, claiming he is a security risk.

Pollard - who has been granted Israeli citizenship - and his supporters, led by his wife, claim he is a victim of behind-the-scenes political warfare by anti-Israel and anti-Semitic elements in the US Defense Department.

Several Israeli Prime Ministers have raised the issue of Pollard's continued imprisonment in meetings with US Presidents, but each approach has been met with silence.

Israel has never formally accepted responsibility for Pollard's espionage, claiming he had been recruited in a "rogue operation" not authorized by the Prime Minister.

Last August, Israel's Supreme Court agreed to set an emergency hearing for a petition filed by Pollard's lawyers, asking that the Israeli government be forced to acknowledge Pollard as an Israeli agent, and to "negotiate in good faith" for his release.

The lawyers had argued that an emergency hearing was needed because of his poor health and deteriorating security conditions. The hearing is now set for October 29.

Mrs. Pollard said conditions in his prison had deteriorated in recent years as a result of an influx of violent criminals, transferred from other prisons to reduce overcrowding.