Confrontation Between Sharon & Netanyahu - News Feature
EXPOSÉ: Sharon Blames Netanyahu for Abandoning Pollard
Yechiel Dotan - Eton Yerushalayim/Yediot Achronot - January 25, 2002
NOTE: This is J4JP's translation of 2 page color spread feature story and photos (front page banner headline) that appeared today in the Eton Yerushalayim, a weekend supplement of Yediot Achronot, Israel's largest Hebrew daily.]
Pollard in letter to Netanyahu: "Sharon blames you for abandoning me."
Prime Minister Sharon recently sent a letter to Pollard in which he states that Netanyahu should not have signed the Wye Accords without securing his release.
Netanyahu, in a sharply-worded statement responded: "The Prime Minister is exploiting Pollard for political ends, while distorting the truth."
Pollard himself indeed blames Sharon, "You want me to die in prison."
Sharon responds: "No comment."
Body of Article:
"I have just received an official letter from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, dated December 24, 2001 in which he accuses you of leaving me on the tarmac at Wye." So wrote the Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, incarcerated in the US, in a letter sent to former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on January 3, 2002. Pollard added, I will be glad to share a copy of the letter with you when you visit me."
Two weeks ago Netanyahu went to visit Pollard at the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina where Pollard has been incarcerated for 16 years. Reached by telephone in Los Angeles, Netanyahu confirmed that he had read the letter and he severely criticized the Prime Minister. "It troubles me," said Netanyahu, "that to serve petty political ends, the Prime Minister is exploiting Pollard, while distorting the truth. He would do well to leave Pollard out of internal Israeli politics as his predecessors have done."
The letter which was obtained by Eton Yerushalayim said among other things:
"In fact, as you know, I was steadfast in my insistence at the Wye Summit that your release remain a top priority for the State of Israel - and that then Prime Minister Netanyahu should refuse to sign any accord in the absence of an American commitment to set you free."
For Pollard and Netanyahu the meaning of this statement is obvious: the Prime Minister is blaming Netanyahu for abandoning the incarcerated Israeli agent at Wye.
In a separate letter that Pollard wrote to the Prime Minister he called Sharon to account for making crude remarks about him. Pollard wrote:
"To poke fun at an Israeli agent who has spent 16 years in prison for service to the State of Israel reflects a shocking callousness, and is an insult to all who faithfully serve the State.... Mr. Sharon, I have no illusions about your intentions for me. Our mutual friend, the late Rechavam Ze'evi z"l, never recovered from the shock after you made it clear to him last Passover, that rather than expend any effort to seek my release, you prefer that I die in prison... Whether or not you personally desire it, you are morally and legally bound to do everything in your power to secure my release. G-d Almighty - and history - will be the judge of your failure to fulfill your obligations as leader of the State of Israel." (See complete text of letter.)
Pollard from Prison: "Sharon Has Forgotten Me"
From prison in Butner, North Carolina, Pollard reacted to Sharon's accusations against Netanyahu. Pollard, for his part, aimed his own accusations at Sharon.
J4JP Note: To ensure accuracy, J4JP relied below on Pollard's English quotes exactly as they were originally relayed. The questions that appear below were inserted by the newspaper post facto for reader clarity.)
Question: "How are you doing?"
Pollard: "I am not in good shape. My health continues to deteriorate. My overall situation is not helped by the devastating awareness that Sharon has abandoned me to my fate."
Question: "You say that Sharon has forgotten you. How does that jibe with the fact that he has just written you a personal letter?"
Pollard: "Mr. Sharon's letter is an outrageous lie.
"Remember, this is the same man that just offered me $2 million dollars in blood money to absolve himself of all responsibility for securing my release. That fact alone shows what a lie this letter is. It completely contradicts all of Sharon's claims of concern and initiative for me."
"There is no evidence that he is "doing everything in (his) power" to secure my release. In fact all the evidence shows that he has done absolutely nothing to further my case since he took office."
A few months ago, a plan supported by the majority of Cabinet Ministers came across the Prime Minister's desk. The plan called for a delegation of senior Israeli officials including the head of the Mossad and Pollard's attorney Larry Dub to meet with top-level American officials and Congressmen in order to negotiate Pollard's release.
Question: "What has happened since then?"
Pollard: "Nothing. Mr. Sharon paid no attention. Ever since he took office he has ignored every request I've made. He has refused to undertake any initiative whatsoever on my behalf. He has ignored every opportunity to secure my release."
Question: "Doesn't Sharon claim that he has asked for your release?"
Pollard: "Informed sources in Washington confirm that he has never brought up the issue of my release directly with the President."
Question: "So what do you make of his letter to you?"
Pollard: "In light of the all of the above facts, his letter to me must be seen for what it is: a self-serving, politically-motivated pack of lies, designed to shift responsibility away from him while blaming others.
"Instead of acting to secure my release, Sharon is simply engaging in partisan politics, accusing others of betraying me."
Question: "I want to remind you that Sharon was the only government Minister to oppose signing the Wye Accords unless your release was assured."
Pollard: "Sharon has never told the truth about his role at Wye.*(See J4JP Clarification below). In his letter he blames Netanyahu for abandoning me at Wye. That accusation is simply to appease his own guilty conscience.
"Another thing. Sharon writes that "our entire nation has mobilized to fulfill the mitzvah of pidyan shvuyim". This is so far from the truth that it is offensive. Shameful.
"If Mr. Sharon were doing even one tenth of what he claims to be doing to secure my release, he would be welcoming me home now instead of writing me letters."
Question: "Who does Sharon blame for betraying you?"
Pollard: "The biggest betrayal of all is Sharon's own failure to secure my release in spite of a wealth of opportunity to do so. He is the first Prime Minister in 17 years to have all of the factors in his favor in order to secure my release, yet he steadfastly refuses to expend any effort at all to rescue me."
Prime Minister Sharon's office refused to respond to these comments.
*J4JP Clarification: Sharon's True Role at Wye
Jonathan Pollard has recently learned from a senior official who participated in the Wye River Summit that while Mr. Sharon publicly insisted that Israel not sign the Wye Accords unless the US honored its commitment to release him, behind the scenes Sharon quietly joined forces with then-Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordecai to force Netanyahu to back down and leave Pollard behind. An eyewitness to this collusion at Wye has corroborated the account. Sharon's hypocritical behavior at Wye appears consistent with his entire approach to the issue of Jonathan Pollard. Sharon publicly feigns concern for Pollard while in reality ignoring every opportunity to secure his release.