Bush Rejects Request To Release Pollard?

Aluf Benn - Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Staff - September 15, 2005

NEW YORK - U.S. President George Bush has rejected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's request that he pardon convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.

Sharon and Bush met on Wednesday at the UN World Summit, and at the end of the meeting, Sharon said he wanted to raise a very delicate issue: that of Pollard, who has thus far served 20 years in jail for spying for Israel. "If you want to help me, his release will help me more than anything else," Sharon said.

Bush responded that he has considered all sorts of ideas for how to help Sharon following the disengagement, but that particular idea never entered his head. He also noted that Sharon has raised the issue of Pollard at every one of their meetings, and said he has considered it each time, but his position has not changed.

Sharon said he hoped the two would continue "to talk about and work on" this issue.

Pollard's wife, Esther, accused Sharon of never really intending to free her husband, Israel Radio said early Thursday.

She believes the prime minister's aides contacted Bush ahead of time and made it clear that he must take part in the "charade" for the benefit of the Israeli public.