The government should take advantage of the visit of US Secretary of Defense William Cohen to raise the issue of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein said yesterday.
Cohen is a key figure in securing a presidential pardon for Pollard, since resistance to such a move is coming from Naval Intelligence where Pollard worked before he was convicted, Edelstein pointed out.
Meanwhile, increased efforts are being made to work out a formula over the Pollard petition to the High Court of Justice, as the deadline imposed by the court approaches. The state was given until May 2 to show why it should not acknowledge Pollard as an Israeli agent.
Yitzhak Oren, a diplomat at the embassy in Washington, is due to meet Pollard today, after spending the past few days in Jerusalem trying to work out a formula that will satisfy his demand for unequivocal recognition while bearing in mind requests from security circles for only partial acknowledgment of his role.
Pollard had earlier rejected an Israeli formula which did not unequivocally recognize him as an agent. Oren is believed to have worked out a new and more explicit formula with cabinet secretary Dan Naveh, who reportedly received telephone approval of the text from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The state, which is anxious to avoid a court case where witnesses will have to testify, is now closer to meeting Pollard's proposals for wording the text, a source said. In that case, Pollard is expected to withdraw his petition when the court reconvenes.