Israeli Minister Visits Pollard in U.S. Jail
November 25 1997 - Naomi Segal - JTA
Israeli Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein has become the first Israeli government minister to visit Jonathan Pollard in jail.
Edelstein met on Monday with the former U.S. Navy intelligence
analyst, who is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.
Edelstein, whose meeting was cleared with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu and the attorney general, conveyed a letter
written by Netanyahu's spokesman, David Bar-Illan, that contained a
pledge from the premier to continue every effort to secure Pollard's
Edelstein recently initiated the meeting, saying the Israeli government
was not doing enough to help Pollard.
Edelstein's spokesman said after the meeting that Pollard was cynical
about the promises made by Israeli leaders to act on his behalf.
Pollard was arrested in 1985 outside the Israeli Embassy in
Washington. He pleaded guilty in 1986 to stealing secrets for the
Israeli government and, in 1987, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Pollard has petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice to force the
government to recognize that he acted as an agent for Israel.
Israeli officials have maintained that Pollard passed on intelligence
documents without official sanction.
Pollard was granted Israeli citizenship last year, a move he had hoped
would bolster his chances for release.
President Clinton rejected a clemency plea by Pollard in July 1996,
citing the gravity of his crime, his lack of remorse and the damage he
caused to American security.
During his visit to the federal prison in Butner, N.C., Edelstein asked
prison officials to improve Pollard's medical treatment and to make
kosher food available to him.
Edelstein had no meetings scheduled with Washington officials to
discuss Pollard's case.
When he returns to Israel, Edelstein is slated to brief Netanyahu and
Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein about his meeting with Pollard.
Earlier this month, Rubinstein* asked U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno
to help secure Pollard's freedom.
* Justice for Jonathan Pollard notes:
Rubinstein's appeal to Janet Reno, (the wrong address for such an appeal),
was a self-serving publicity stunt that clearly signaled to the Americans
Israel's lack of serious intent. Rubinstein used Pollard as a means to
appease the Israeli public by diverting attention away from the Sheinbein
case, which was the Attorney General's real agenda with Reno.