Israel: No Decision Made on Pollard

October 1, 1998 - The Washington Post

JERUSALEM (AP) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that he discussed the fate of Jonathan Pollard with President Clinton but no decision was made about a possible release of the American jailed 13 years ago for spying for Israel.

The daily Yediot Ahronot reported earlier today that Clinton agreed to free Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for passing secret U.S. military documents to Israel. The newspaper report was denied by a Clinton administration official in Washington who said granting early release to Pollard would be met by strong opposition within the U.S. government. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

A statement released after a meeting of Netanyahu's Cabinet said the prime minister told his ministers that the Pollard issue was raised during his U.S. visit this week but no decision was made.

Pollard, a former U.S. naval intelligence analyst, was arrested in 1985 outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington. While on the run from U.S. authorities, Pollard sought refuge at the embassy but was refused entry.

Until recently, Israeli governments disavowed Pollard and called his espionage a "rogue operation." However, the Netanyahu government granted Pollard Israeli citizenship and acknowledged him as an Israeli agent. Many Israeli officials, including Cabinet ministers, have visited him in prison.