Pollard Loses Israeli Court Bid On Palestinians

November 17, 1998

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Jonathan Pollard, an American Jew serving a life term in the United States for spying for Israel, lost a bid in an Israeli court Tuesday to block the release of Palestinian prisoners until he is freed.

In a petition to Israel's High Court of Justice, Pollard said President Clinton promised during the U.S. Middle East peace summit last month to free him in exchange for Israel's release of hundreds of Palestinians.

A Courts Administration spokesman said the court accepted the Israeli government's argument that no such commitment, on the sidelines of the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal clinched at the summit, had been given.

The court also said it did not interfere with diplomatic agreements.

Clinton, who mediated the latest Israeli-Palestinian accord negotiated at Wye River in Maryland last month, denies promising Pollard's release but pledged to review his case.

Pollard, a 40-year-old former U.S. naval intelligence analyst who passed secrets to Israel, has been in prison since 1985 . He has since been granted Israeli citizenship.

In a last-minute maneuver at the Wye River summit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed the signing of the land-for-security deal, demanding that Pollard's release be included.

Israel agreed in the deal to free hundreds of Palestinians and a first group could be released late this week, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.