Lawyer: Barak Forgot About Pollard

The Jerusalem Post - July 21, 1999 - Batsheva Tsur

Did a date for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard come up in the talks between President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Ehud Barak?

The Prime Minister's Office was firm on the question yesterday; the White House claimed the issue was raised; and Pollard lobbyists said that a decision was made to postpone the release. (*See Justice for JP Media Release Washington Sets New Price for Pollard July 20, 1999.)

"The Prime Minister raised the issue," National Security Advisor Sandy Berger told reporters in Washington following Monday night's joint news conference. Berger said Clinton had made no commitment. The president, he said is waiting for a report from White House Counsel Charles Ruff, who last November was assigned to collect the recommendations of the various US government agencies. (* N.B. The impartial review of the case that President Clinton promised at Wye that he personally would undertake and decide expeditiously - by January 1999 - and that he promised would hear from all sides, has now been conveniently forgotten by the Administration and the media alike.)

But Berger added, Pollard's release would not be linked with the peace process.

In Jerusalem, Pollard's lawyer Larry Dub charged that Barak had "chosen an astronaut over an agent." Clinton gave Barak his choice (of high profile US incentives), and it appears that he decided it would be more important to have an Israeli astronaut in space (with the US space program next year) than to free an Israeli agent, Jonathan Pollard, Dub said.

"Furthermore, a source close to the prime minister has confirmed that Barak and Clinton have reached a tacit agreement to release Pollard as a "consolation prize" in return for a total withdrawal from the Golan Heights," Dub said.

"After the Golan Heights, we can expect another delay - then the new deal will be pending a full withdrawal from Judea and Samaria," Dub added. "This is just another stalling tactic."

A spokesman for Barak in Jerusalem said yesterday evening that the prime minister had made it clear that he would not discuss the matter publicly. "The less said about the issue, the better. Any publicity about the matter will not help Pollard," spokesman David Zisso said.

Jonathan Pollard asserted, last night, in remarks conveyed by Dub:

"We have no problem with quiet diplomacy, provided that it really occurs, and in this instance, the most credible sources indicate that it simply is not ...Unfortunately all indications are that the prime minister is simply going through the motions as if he were engaged in quiet diplomacy to seek my release, while behind the scenes there is no honest initiative."