Clinton To Review Pollard Case Today

January 19, 1999 - The Jerusalem Post - Batsheva Tsur

JERUSALEM (January 19) - Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has instructed his staff to begin high-level meetings with the US intelligence community over accusations that Israel did not return all classified documents passed on by Jonathan Pollard. It is hoped the meetings will facilitate the release of the convicted spy, Pollard's lawyer, Larry Dub, said after meeting with Netanyahu yesterday.

President Bill Clinton is today to review the possibility of releasing Pollard.

The prime minister's legal adviser, Shimon Stern, and other senior officials were instructed to discuss with the US administration claims that Israel did not return all of the highly secret material which Pollard passed to it, including a key surveillance manual containing encryption codes, Dub said.

*[NOT TRUE! See letter to the editor]

According to an article in The New Yorker, the manual was described as so secret that it had never been mentioned in public.

Netanyahu plans to take action to combat what he sees as a disinformation campaign being waged in Washington, Dub said. He said that the charges in The New Yorker article, that the documents were sold to the highest bidder, were a slur not only against Pollard but against the Israeli authorities.

Dub said he had appealed directly to Clinton, and had also written twice to White House Counsel Charles Ruff.


He said he had also twice requested meetings with Craig Iscoe of the Justice Department


and was surprised that there were charges that he had not presented Pollard's view to the US Justice Department in anticipation of the review of the release request.

*[NOT TRUE! SEE Letter to Editor!]

At his meeting with Dub, Netanyahu reiterated his dissatisfaction with Labor Party leader

Ehud Barak

for failing to sign a joint letter to Clinton on Pollard. According to sources close to Netanyahu, Barak was afraid that, should Pollard be released as a result of the joint plea, Netanyahu would bask in the pre-election glory.

"Pollard was sent by the State of Israel," Netanyahu said. "This is not a political issue. Israel has to be responsible for bringing him home. We do not leave our wounded soldiers in the field."

He said it was essential that Barak sign the letter on the day that Clinton is reviewing the question of Pollard's release.

Barak responded on Israel Radio that the public declarations about Pollard had merely "buried him deeper." Barak said he believes in quiet diplomacy. When he met Clinton during his recent visit to Israel, Barak said, he had discussed Pollard with him.

"Most events don't take place on television, but rather through hard work on real issues with real people," Barak said without relating directly to the question of his signature.

MK Yossi Beilin (Labor), who criticized Netanyahu's attacks on Barak over the letter, said that "the media circus around Pollard is part of those publicized events that merely delay Pollard's release."

Rabbi Alexander Schindler, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said he is "bitterly disappointed" that Barak refused to sign a bipartisan plea to Clinton to commute Pollard's sentence.

"Are there no issues of national interest which transcend Israel's stormy partisan politics?" Schindler wrote in a statement received by The Jerusalem Post. "Should Pollard be allowed to languish in jail even a day longer for fear that a political opponent might gain an edge?

"Barak's failure to support the Yuli Edelstein initiative does scant honor to the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, who never hesitated to assert that Pollard's continued imprisonment has long since crossed the line where justice ends and vindictiveness begins."

Schindler was not available yesterday for comment.

Alon Pinkas, Barak's adviser on foreign affairs, said in a statement that Schindler "means very well and evidently wants only the best for Mr. Pollard." However, he added, "that is why he should be extra careful and thoroughly familiar with the facts and the complexities before releasing such a blunt and uncalled for statement, especially pertaining to elections in Israel."

Nina Gilbert adds MK Ophir Pines (Labor) said that he is considering resigning as head of the Knesset caucus for Pollard because of Netanyahu's "cynical use of Pollard's suffering to advance his election campaign." Pines condemned "the scathing attack" by Netanyahu against Barak, and said the move would harm the efforts of the caucus to press for Pollard's release.

See Also:

  • Dec. 4, 1998 letter
  • Jan. 13, 1999 letter