Israeli Minister To Meet Spy's Wife: An Empty Gesture Rejected

September 9, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) - Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard has rejected an offer to meet with an Israeli Cabinet minister, saying only Prime Minister Ehud Barak can secure his release from a U.S. prison.

Rabbi Michael Melchior, minister in charge of Diaspora relations, said Wednesday he would meet with Pollard's wife in the coming weeks and would visit Pollard in jail at the end of the year. Pollard has petitioned Israel's Supreme Court to order the government to work for his release.

However, Pollard said neither he nor his wife would meet with Melchior. Pollard called the invitation "an empty gesture for Israeli domestic consumption" and demanded Barak negotiate his release directly.

Pollard has served 14 years of a life sentence for spying on the U.S. Navy while he worked as a civilian analyst.

In a court petition Tuesday, Pollard had accused Barak of abandoning efforts of previous Israeli governments to secure his release.

Esther Pollard had accused Barak of ignoring her requests to meet with him and refusing to update her on the efforts to win her husband's release.

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