Calculated Media Leak To Sweeten Redeployment Deal Fails

MA'ARIV - October 2, 1998
Ben Caspit, Udi Segal, and Yitzhak Ben Horin


The White House, the Prime Minister's office and the foreign affairs offices in both Jerusalem and Washington all denied yesterday a story circulated by Yediot Achronot which indicated that Benyamin Netanyahu and Bill Clinton had agreed upon a plan to free Israel's agent, Jonathan Pollard.

The news story created waves of excitement yesterday and was also broadcast by radio and television in Butner North Carolina where Pollard is serving a life sentence on behalf of Israel. Pollard was surrounded by an endless stream of inmates who believed the story and came to congratulate him and say good-bye.

The White House denied that any agreement has been reached to free Jonathan Pollard.

White House Spokesman Mike McCurry indicated yesterday that there has been no change in the American disposition towards Pollard since President Clinton last rejected an appeal for clemency in 1996.

The Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Zalman Shoval, who attended the Netanyahu -Clinton meeting (though not the private conversation between the two) yesterday told Ma'ariv: " I am not aware of any decision reached on the matter."

American sources say that previous attempts to convince President Clinton to free Pollard have been met with strong opposition from the Pentagon and intelligence services.

Pollard yesterday told Ma'ariv: "Israel is doing all that it can to sabotage my chances of being released. This calculated leak to the media created a circus of publicity that is thoroughly counter-productive. It is very clear that if any agreement had really been reached, it would have first been carried out, and then publicized."

Pollard added: "According to our sources, there never was any such deal between Clinton and the Prime Minister. All that there was, was this calculated leak to the media in Israel to try to defuse opposition to the next redeployment. The leak was designed to mislead the people of Israel into believing that my release would be the reward for Israel biting the bullet on redeployment. Nothing could be further from the truth."

In a series of interviews with the media yesterday, Pollard's wife Esther also denied that there was any truth to the story circulated by Yediot Achronot.

In response, the Prime Minister's spokesman said that the matter had been raised in his meeting with President Clinton on Monday, but that no agreement had been reached.

Yesterday at a government meeting, Netanyahu said that the subject had been mentioned during his meeting with Clinton but that nothing was decided.

In the midst of all this, Israeli officials who were interviewed indicated that it is possible that President Clinton could make such a gesture and free Pollard in the framework of an agreement for a second redeployment, if one takes place.

See Also:
  • Sleight-of-Hand Leak Designed to Deceive Public
  • We Told You So!