After more than a decade of denials, the government yesterday officially recognized Jonathan Pollard as an Israeli agent.
"According to the recommendation of the professional team headed by Cabinet Secretary Dan Naveh, the state has declared that Jonathan Pollard served as an Israeli agent who was directed by persons who held senior positions in the Scientific Liaison Office [a clandestine official unit generally known by its Hebrew acronym, Lakam]," according to an official communique issued by the Prime Minister's Bureau.
The government's recognition of Pollard as an Israeli agent coincided with a request by his attorney that the High Court petition, demanding that the government recognize him as an agent, filed on his behalf against the State of Israel be dropped.
The government had one week left before the 60-day deadline on a court order for the government to explain what steps it is taking to win Pollard's release.
The communique confirmed that Naveh is scheduled to visit Pollard on Friday at his North Carolina prison, where he is serving a life sentence.
"It is to be noted that this position is consistent with the factual determinations expressed in the open conclusions of the sub-committee on intelligence services and security of the Knesset, as well as of the committee of clarification established by the prime minister [the Rotenstreich-Tsur Committee]," the communique said.
The government is mounting a campaign to convince the American authorities, and especially US President Bill Clinton, that the punishment meted out to Pollard was excessive in view of the treatment given by US courts to others found guilty of espionage.
Pollard also is expected to be visited next week by the chairman of the US Senate's committee on intelligence matters and by author Elie Wiesel.
Wiesel's call for Pollard's ordeal to be brought to an end is hoped to have symbolic impact because of his past identification with prisoners of conscious and Soviet Jews denied the right to emigrate, as well as due to his literary works, which stirred international awareness of the Holocaust.