Israeli PM Candidates Wrangle Over Pollard
January 18, 1999 - Reuters
Convicted U.S. Jewish spy Jonathan
Pollard took center stage in Israel's election campaign Monday
as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader hurled barbs over Pollard's bid for freedom.
Netanyahu swiped at Barak for refusing to sign a joint
letter to President Clinton requesting clemency for Pollard, a
former U.S. navy intelligence analyst
jailed for life in 1986
for passing secret U.S. documents to Israel.
Barak shot back at Netanyahu accusing him of being more
interested in scoring political points than securing Pollard's
"Ehud Barak must sign this letter at a time when President
Clinton is weighing whether to pardon Jonathan Pollard,''
Netanyahu told reporters after meeting Pollard's lawyer.
"We don't leave wounded in the field. We don't abandon men
in the field,'' Netanyahu said, in an apparent reference to
allegations that ex-army chief Barak had once neglected Israeli
commandos wounded in a training exercise.
Barak, now leader of the main opposition Labor party, has
staunchly denied abandoning the men.
Clinton promised to review Pollard's case last October
during U.S.-brokered peace negotiations at the Wye Plantation in
Maryland after Netanyahu demanded Pollard's release be linked to
a land-for-security accord with the Palestinians.
Barak accused Netanyahu of doing damage to Pollard's cause
by exploiting him for political gain ahead of national elections
"I think about Pollard all the time,'' Barak told Army
Radio. "The prime minister's problem is he is thinking about
"The thought that public relations stunts will get Pollard
out is mistaken. For now, the actions of this government, at Wye
and now don't help Pollard. They harm him,'' Barak said.
"There are things which wisdom dictates should be done
quietly,'' he added. Barak said he did not need to sign a public
letter because he had privately informed Clinton of his views on
Pollard in a recent meeting.
U.S. officials have cautioned against expecting any decision
soon on clemency for Pollard, saying the administration would
first review a broad range of recommendations.