Pollard Asks PM And Barak To Cooperate On His Release

December 18, 1997 - Yerah Tal - Ha'aretz

Communications Minister Limor Livnat met Wednesday with Jonathan Pollard in his prison in North Carolina, where he is serving a life sentence for spying on behalf of Israel. Livnat was the second minister to meet with Pollard, who met with Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein two weeks ago.

For the first time, the prison authorities allowed media coverage of a meeting with Pollard, letting a pool of two reporters document the meeting with tape recorders and still cameras, but not video or television cameras.

Livnat protested having to undergo a security check upon entering. The meeting was held in the prison meetingroom, and was also attended by Jonathan's wife, Esther. Pollard's hair was long, he was wearing a skullcap and a prisoner's uniform and seemed in good health. Livnat hugged and kissed him.

The meeting was held in the presence of a U.S. Navy soldier, but he did not interfere in the conversation. Pollard told Livnat that he felt like an agent betrayed and abandoned by his operators. He asked Livnat to appeal in his name to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to the head of the opposition, Ehud Barak, to join forces to act for his release.

Pollard also called upon Netanyahu and Barak to cooperate with the U.S. Jewish organizations to influence Congress to act for his release from prison. Pollard said there was no reason for him to continue serving a prison sentence after 13 years, adding that Colonel Schwartz, the American who spied for Saudi Arabia, had been released.

"I am extremely sorry for what happened. I don't believe that anybody who has experienced what I have experienced over the past 13 years could feel anything but profound sorrow and remorse," Pollard said. He added that his motives for spying for Israel were that some elements in the U.S. administration "wanted to blind Israel and hide information of serious threats to it." He added, "these people will want me to continue sitting in prison so that they can continue talking about double loyalty while pointing a finger at Israel."

There was no fear of him revealing any secrets upon being released, he said. "I don't know anything. What could I possibly know that the Americans are not aware of?"

Pollard slammed Foreign Minister David Levy for his ministry's criticism of ministers' pilgrimages to the prison, based on the argument that it angered the Americans. He said, "Levy wants to build a bridge, but a bridge like that of the Maccabiah (sports event), which was foolishly planned and collapsed under the feet of those who walked on it.", Livnat joined Pollard in her criticism of the Foreign Ministry, calling the leaking of information impertinence.

She emphasized that she came with the prime minister's approval and delivered a letter of support from him. In his letter, Netanyahu repeated his promise that the government would spare no effort to bring about Pollard's release.