Interview of PM Netanyahu with Pat Robertson

Octobber 28, 1998 - Excerpt

Robertson: What about Jonathan Pollard? I have led some initiatives of the Bush administration to have him released from what seems to be an unusually harsh confinement. Were you successful? I know it's in the press, but what do you think of that?

Netanyahu: Well, evidently I haven't been successful, but I had hoped that he would be released at this juncture because -- understand that Pollard did a terrible thing and he's been punished for it. He's been in 13 years, virtually, of solitary confinement. Whatever he did and the mistake that he did was not done to hurt the United States but to help Israel.

And I can tell you that he has served his time and for the first time, I've come clean what previous governments only implied. I said, forthrightly, 'Yes. He was working for us. Yes, he wanted to give us information on things like Saddam Hussein and his plans to threaten Israel.' But he's served his time, and I hope that the American people and Mr. Clinton and the people who advise him find the mercy in their hearts to let him go. Let him go to Israel.

Robertson: Well, the report was that he knows some secret means of communication of intelligence information; that if he's set free, it will be a great security problem. I can't buy that. It doesn't seem logical after this many years.

Netanyahu: Well, all I can say is that the information that he gave us, to the best of my knowledge, in no way implicates American security.

Robertson: And are you hopeful that maybe the President will work on his release.

Netanyahu: I certainly am because, you know, it's always been said I have to take difficult decisions and did, and I put my own personal, political futureat risk, and I did it in order to achieve peace with security. I'm also releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners as part of this deal..people who've made abject offenses against Israeli security and Israeli citizens.

I had hoped that the United States, too, would -- in addition to offering great hospitality in the fields of the Wye Plantation and President Clinton's own important involvement -- I had hoped that there would be an opportunity, when we have this new beginning here, to find the ways to release Pollard and I still hope that that will be the case.

Robertson: Oh, I join you in that...