Decision on Pollard Petition Delayed

March 3, 1998 - Batsheva Tsur - The Jerusalem Post

Despite an emotional outburst by Esther Zeitz-Pollard, the High Court of Justice yesterday morning postponed a decision on a petition from her husband, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, requesting that he be recognized as an Israeli agent.

Instead, the court agreed to a request from the state that it be granted a further 60 days to allow a ministerial committee to formulate its policy on securing Pollard's release and put it into action. But Justice Yitzchak Zamir suggested that the ministerial committee, rather than the court, might be the correct forum for a declaration that Pollard was an agent, Zeitz-Pollard said after the closed hearings ended. Jonathan Pollard reacted strongly to the court decision in a telephone conversation with his wife yesterday afternoon.

"The Supreme Court threw me out just as I was thrown out by the [Israeli] Embassy [in Washington] 13 years ago. Their failure to take responsibility and act honorably closes the circle that began with the Defense Ministry's abandoning me, then with the political echelon.... They are playing with my life," he said.

Zeitz-Pollard, who said she was overcome with emotion, shouted out at the justices: "Do you want Jonathan to die?", causing Justice Eliezer Goldberg to threaten to throw her out of the courtroom. She said later that the [justices] dont understand that Jonathan's life is threatened every day in jail.

Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein said yesterday evening that he would demand that the ministerial committee announce that Pollard was an agent and ask the prime minister to take responsibility for securing his release. Pollard should be brought to Israel during the Jubilee year, Edelstein said. The committee is due to meet within the coming week.

Pollard is serving a life sentence in a Butner, North Carolina, prison for spying on the US for Israel. On October 29, when the court first heard his petition for state recognition as an Israeli agent, the government was given 60 days to respond. But the court reconvened only yesterday. In his response to the court, Uzi Fogelman, head of the Justice Ministry's High Court Division, said that new steps had been taken meanwhile: a ministerial committee had been formed to secure Pollard's release and Edelstein and Communications Minister Limor Livnat had visited him in jail.

Fogelman, according to Zeitz-Pollard, promised the court that Pollard's lawyers and wife would be intimately involved in the committee's actions.

"It is time for Israel to come out of the closet," MK Ophir Pines, head of the Knesset lobby for Pollard said yesterday evening. Pines said he plans to bring a resolution to the Knesset to recognize Pollard as an agent for whom the government has responsibility. This will give backing to efforts to release him, Pines said.

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