Empty Gestures Won't Bring Pollard Home

January 5, 1999 - Middle East Newsline - Steve Rodan


The government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has renewed lobbying efforts to win the release Jonathan Pollard as President Clinton prepares to review the life sentence given to the former Naval Intelligence analyst.

The Israeli initiative will lobby members of the Clinton administration and Congress to release Pollard after serving more than 13 years in prison.

"We are talking of an initiative that is based on humanitarian considerations," Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein, the minister coordinating the government effort, said. "We are asking an Israeli citizen that committed a serious crime according to U.S. law but has served his sentence."

Edelstein said in its latest initiative the government continues to stress the humanitarian aspects of the Pollard case.

Diplomatic and congressional sources in Washington said the Israeli effort has little chance of succeeding. They said that Clinton is not expected to overrule the objections of his aides and approve the release of Pollard.

Pollard was convicted of relaying U.S. military data to Israel and was sentenced to life in prison despite a plea bargain deal. Clinton pledged to Netanyahu in October that he would review the Pollard case in January.

A senior Israeli source said the Clinton administration appears unlikely to even seriously consider the Israeli arguments. "We're talking about a period where there are elections in Israel and an impeachment process in Washington," the source said. "In this atmosphere, there is little willingness to listen."

Justice For Jonathan Pollard adds:

This Israeli initiative is nothing more than pre-election posturing for public consumption. If the Government of Israel were serious, the initiative would be taking place behind the scenes in the US, not in the Israeli media.

It is inexcusable that what should be occurring, is not taking place at all - namely: quiet behind-the-scenes intensive lobbying and negotiation by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his top aides with President Clinton and his top people. Empty gestures in the Israeli media are not taken seriously by the US, and will not bring Jonathan Pollard home. This kind of weak and unconvincing effort won't fool the Israeli people either.