Netanyahu: We are always working for Pollard's release

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects connecting reports of U.S. spying in Israel with Pollard case
  • PM: We don't need any special event to spur us to action to free Pollard
  • Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked: U.S. cannot practice double standards.

    Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff - Israel Hayom - December 22, 2013

  • Israel is working all the time to convince U.S. President Barack Obama to free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

    Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, the prime minister rejected drawing comparisons between recent reports indicating that U.S. intelligence has been intercepting correspondences between high-ranking Israel officials and pardoning Pollard.

    "We don't need any special event to spur us to action to free Pollard. We are busy with this all the time," said Netanyahu. "There is no connection between reports stating that the U.S. collected data in Israel and the potential release of Pollard."

    The prime minister's comments came as former U.S. Assistant Defense Secretary Dr. Lawrence Korb argued the opposite, calling Pollard's ongoing imprisonment absurd, especially in light of the revelations about U.S. spying.

    "The lack of proportion of Pollard's sentence and his worsening medical condition in any case demands his release by any measure of justice," Korb said.

    Korb argued that revelations indicating that the U.S. has been spying on Israeli leaders while adamantly refusing to pardon Pollard after he has languished in prison for 29 years, "bring the case to dimensions of true absurdity."

    Habayit Hayehudi MK Ayelet Shaked also weighed in on the issue over the weekend, accusing the U.S. of double standards.

    "U.S. demands on Israel, condemning espionage, must be mutual. There certainly cannot be double standards, where one side is disproportionately punished for being the 'sinner,' while a similar act by the other side is considered legitimate," she said.

    "I am calling on the U.S. government to release Jonathan Pollard immediately, and to do the right thing given the current reality," Shaked said.

    Korb's comments echoed those of former New Mexico Governor and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson, who also called on Obama to free Pollard.

    Richardson, who endorsed Obama in 2008 after dropping out of the Democratic primary race, wrote a letter to Obama earlier this month saying, "I served in the cabinet, under President Clinton, when Pollard's release was discussed 15 years ago. In my view, there is no longer a need for a discussion today. Virtually everyone who was in a high position of government -- and dealt with the ramifications of what Pollard did at the time -- now support his release."

    Richardson wrote that he believed there was growing number of current and former senior U.S. officials -- he listed several from the Clinton administration -- who thought Pollard's release was long overdue.

    The Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard released a statement lamenting Pollard's poor health conditions amid his ongoing sentence: "Pollard has recently entered his 29th year in American prison and his health is unstable. Statements by senior American officials, the humanitarian considerations and the close relations between the two countries must bring about an end to this unthinkable saga. We are calling on the prime minister and the president to act now, before it is too late."

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