Pollard Disappointed and Disgusted by Meeting with Ayalon

Nathan Guttman - Haaretz - May 17, 2005

WASHINGTON - Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon visited Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in his North Carolina prison Tuesday evening [Israel time]. In the course of the meeting, Pollard had tough words for the ambassador and expressed his dissatisfaction with the Israeli government.

"I was severely disappointed and even disgusted," said Pollard. "After 20 years I had hoped for a serious meeting but instead all I received was an empty gesture and a meeting without substance."

Ayalon's visit was the first by an Israeli ambassador with Pollard, who was sentenced to life after being convicted of spying for Israel in March 1987.

Pollard said he asked Ayalon to relay to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that he will not participate in any more of Sharon's "cheap tricks."

Pollard also told the ambassador that if the Israeli government cannot secure his release, then the Israeli public must be informed that the relations between the two countries are not as good as they are being presented.

Ayalon confirmed that the meeting had been a difficult one, and said that after 20 years in prison, Pollard certainly has tough feelings regarding the Israeli government.

"I came to him with a message of strength and support from the Israeli government and people," said Ayalon after the meeting. Ayalon rejected Pollard's accusations that the government is not doing enough to secure his release.

Prior to meeting with Pollard, Ayalon met Tuesday with Pollard's wife, Esther, who also slammed the visit and dismissed it as a "cheap trick" by Sharon.

When he wanted to, Mrs. Pollard said, Sharon managed to secure the release of Azzam Azzam, who was jailed for eight years in Egypt on espionage charges, as well as Elhanan Tennenbaum, held by Hezbollah for more than three years.

Israeli sources said the purpose of Ayalon's visit is to examine Pollard's condition, and to convey to him that the Israeli government is concerned about him.

Pollard has previously received delegation visits of Knesset members and activists for his release, but the decision to send the ambassador as an official representative of Israel is seen as a change in Israeli policy.

Sharon spoke during his last visit to Washington of Ayalon's planned visit with Pollard, and Israeli officials advised the U.S. administration of this intention.

Pollard is continuing the legal struggle for his release via the American justice system, and has recently petitioned the High Court of Justice in Israel, demanding to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion.

Pollard's petition says he has undergone torture and harassment during his years of incarceration in the U.S. prison.