Pollard Review Seen Linked to Prisoner Release

Palestinian Prisoner "Misunderstanding" Payback for Pollard "Misunderstanding"

Ha'aretz , Hebrew Edition, 7 Dec 98, p B3
[Translation of column: "Tenet Denies Threat to Resign"]
by Akiva Eldar

In a private conversation with a Jewish leader, George Tenet denied the report in The New York Times alleging that he had threatened President Clinton that if he released Jonathan Pollard he would have to relieve him of his duties as CIA director. Tenet's discussed the Pollard issue with Clinton in private. If he was not the one who threatened, then he probably was not the one who leaked to the media that he had. Henceforth, the suspected leaker is the White House. The Jewish organizations realize that after the incident at Wye Plantation Clinton brought upon himself public pressure against pardoning the Jewish spy.

Clinton's announcement last weekend that he had decided to review Pollard's pardon request should be seen in the context of the crisis over the release of the Palestinian prisoners. The Americans know that, formally speaking, Netanyahu is right this time. Nowhere in the Wye accord is it written "security prisoners." The Palestinians are paying for their failure to learn that you don't make gentleman's agreements with people like Netanyahu. On the other hand, the US Administration does not think it is smart on Netanyahu's part to humiliate 'Arafat by releasing petty thieves.

Clinton understood from Netanyahu that Pollard could be the security prisoners' stairway to freedom. In other words, his "misunderstanding" with 'Arafat over the Palestinian prisoners is Netanyahu's revenge against Clinton for the "misunderstanding" over Pollard. The support for Israel's position in the disagreement over the prisoners voiced by the State Department spokesman confirmed the political level's assessment: Clinton is prepared to go to great lengths to save the agreement.

A group of jurists led by Professor Irwin Kotler from Canada (who talks with Pollard every week) has started building this stairway. In a document they are about to submit to the White House the jurists compare the stiff sentence meted to Pollard to the extremely light sentences imposed on US citizens who spied for enemy countries.

The complicated formula about a prisoner release is further compounded by 'Azzam 'Azzam and the Egyptian Government along with him. Israeli representatives hinted in the Wye talks that "if you involve a third country" prisoners who are residents of East Jerusalem (that is, Israeli citizens) could possibly be included in the deal. The Palestinians got the hint and briefed Cairo, but President Mubarak turned down the offer. Israeli security sources say that Mubarak fears that 'Azzam's release would be construed as confirmation of Netanyahu's assertion that 'Azzam's trial proves that there is no justice in Egypt.