DeLay: No Release for Pollard

Nina Gilbert - Jerusalem Post - July 31, 2003

US House Majority leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) declared while visiting the Knesset on Wednesday that Jonathan Pollard, sentenced to life for giving classified information to Israel on non-conventional weapons capabilities of Iraq and other Arab countries, is a "spy" who must remain in prison.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin gave DeLay a petition to US President George W. Bush signed by 112 MKs asking him to release Pollard on humanitarian grounds. The appeal asks Bush to consider the fact that Pollard's efforts were aimed at foiling the "terrorist intentions" of the Iraqi regime.

The petition was sent to the Prime Minister's Office before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left for his talks with Bush. However, on the eve of his departure, Likud MK Michael Eitan, who organized the move, was informed that Sharon would not take the petition with him.

In 1998 Israel acknowledged that Pollard, jailed since 1985, had been operating as an Israeli agent.

DeLay is accompanied on his visit here by Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida). The two met with Sharon on Sunday and also held talks with Palestinian Authority Finance Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah. Later this week DeLay is to travel to Jordan and Iraq. Rivlin said DeLay promised to give the petition to Bush, but at the same time he and Crenshaw made it clear that as decision-makers they would oppose requests to pardon Pollard.

In an address to the Knesset, DeLay emphasized the US commitment to help "liberate" Israel from Palestinian terrorism. He said the Palestinian Authority could not be invited to join the civilized world unless it brings about a total end to terrorism. DeLay called for the isolation of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, and expressed hope that PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would be the "man to finally rid his people of the terrorist elements among them."

DeLay promised that the US would aid the PA with infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and economic opportunities, if it negates terrorism and embraces democracy. During an emotional speech, DeLay declared himself to be an "Israeli of the heart." He said the September 11 attacks taught the US what Israel has "known for decades; that evil cannot be ignored or accommodated." DeLay added that the war on terrorism "costs money and it costs blood" but it is a price the US is "determined to pay."

The continued incarceration of Pollard has nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and it is unwise to link Pollard with the release of Palestinian prisoners, Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said at a news conference in Jerusalem Tuesday. Foxman, who is in Israel with an ADL leadership delegation, spoke of the blurring of lines between anti-Israel views and anti-Semitism, citing the use of Jewish symbolism in cartoons critical of Israel. The ADL frequently hears that anti-Semitism would no longer exist if there were peace in the Middle East. "That's a lot of baloney," Foxman declared. "What the situation has done for anti-Semitism is to give it a pseudo-legitimacy."