Gov't Statement Said First Step On Road To Pollard Release

May 13, 1998 - Steve Rodan - The Jerusalem Post

Israel's acknowledgment that Jonathan Pollard was an authorized Israeli agent - rather than a volunteer in a rogue operation - is the first step in what could be a complicated effort to secure his release. The next step is for negotiations between Israel and the US on Washington's demands for Pollard's release. The talks could begin as early as today, when cabinet secretary Dan Naveh, who is accompanying Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, arrives in Washington.

Until now, the Clinton administration has refused to even consider any of Israel's appeals for Pollard's release. The White House, directed by the American intelligence community, first insisted on a clear statement of Israeli responsibility and full cooperation in examining what intelligence documents Pollard handed over to Israel.

Monday night's communique by the Prime Minister's Office did not use language of the past - that Pollard was employed in a rogue operation of which the Israeli government was not aware. It also identified Pollard as an agent, rather than someone who volunteered information on an ad hoc basis.

"Until the government came clean with the truth, there was no chance of freeing Pollard," his attorney Larry Dub said.

The communique was a victory for Naveh over Defense Ministry officials, including Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai. Several weeks ago, the Prime Minister's Office was about to release another statement that fudged the issue of Pollard's handlers and was merely limited to an Israeli appeal for his release on humanitarian grounds. Pollard opposed that statement so vociferously that Naveh did not release it. Instead, for the next several weeks, he and other officials drafted numerous texts that would satisfy the US demand that Israel admit complicity. Sources said virtually every word was examined and numerous drafts were written until a committee of five ministers received the final text. They said Netanyahu, Justice Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein, and Communications Minister Limor Livnat voted for the text. The only dissenting vote was cast by Mordechai.

But the communique opens a new set of difficulties. Sources expect Israel and the US to engage in secret and intense negotiations over Pollard's release. The US set of demands is expected to be long and will clearly include the return of all the documents Pollard, then a civilian analyst in US Naval Intelligence, gave Jerusalem before his arrest in 1985. The FBI believes it has virtually a complete list of the documents. Pollard, who has a photographic memory, (Justice for Jonathan Pollard note: this is a nonsensical canard created by former US attorney Joseph DiGenova as a nonsequitor to keep Jonathan in prison forever. Scientifically, the concept of a photographic memory is pure fiction!) underwent 52 polygraph tests after his arrest and is said to have told his interrogators all he knows.

Other US demands will be renewed commitments that Israel not spy on the US or use American citizens for espionage operations. American officials are expected to demand strict limitations on Pollard once he is freed. But the overriding sentiment now is that Washington wants to solve the Pollard problem. He has been in jail since 1985, his intelligence information is clearly dated and, most of all, American Jewish leaders want Pollard freed. The assessment is that Clinton might release him as a gesture to help Vice President Al Gore win Jewish support for his presidential campaign in 2000.