Serious US-Israeli Crisis Over Refusal To Release Pollard

Jerusalem Qol Yisra'el in Hebrew 1225 GMT 23 Oct 98

[Golan] We are moving urgently over to our correspondent Yoni Ben-Menahem in Maryland:

[Ben-Menahem] A very serious crisis has developed between Israel and the United States over the Pollard affair. The prime minister is now conferring with President Clinton at Wye Plantation. The President has apparently not left Wye because of the dispute over the release of Jonathan Pollard.

It now transpires that the Americans have backtracked on the deal to release Pollard when the agreement with the Palestinians is signed, the prime minister's entourage said. The prime minister had expected to bring Pollard to Israel aboard his aircraft, and now it transpires that just before the deal was due to be signed, the Americans announced that everything has been frozen and that Pollard will not be released. There is now a tough confrontation between the prime minister and the President.

[Golan] Is the blowup the result of the premature report on Qol Yisra'el, or was there no agreement to start with?

[Ben-Menahem] The prime minister's bureau says specifically that there was an agreement. The understanding between the prime minister and President Clinton was that Jonathan Pollard will be released on the day the agreement with the Palestinians is signed. When Israel wanted to implement that part of the agreement with the signing of the accord, the Americans suddenly announced that Pollard is not part of the agreement. The Israel delegation regards that as a withdrawal from the understandings reached with President Clinton.

[Golan] Can this crisis torpedo or hold up the signing of the agreement with the Palestinians?

[Ben-Menahem] As the deal was part of the agreement with the Palestinians, I would not be surprised to see a postponement of the ceremony if no compromise formula is found. The prime minister might not even appear at the ceremony.