According to an Israeli source, the US Government is considering freeing a U.S. intelligence agent who was convicted of spying for Israel. The US is considering the move in order to move closer to a peace deal with Israel, hoping that Netanyahu will view the move as a very strong goodwill gesture from the United States. Other officials have said the release is far from certain, especially since President Barack Obama would have the final say in the matter.
Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. intelligence agent who was convicted of spying for Israel, could be released before the Jewish holiday of Passover as part of efforts to save Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, an Israeli official involved in the talks told CNN.
Various suggestions for deals for Pollard’s release have been floated over the years but have not materialized. Passover starts on April 14.
Talk of Pollard’s possible release came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Israel on Monday to try to mediate a dispute between Israel and the Palestinians over the release of Palestinian prisoners. Kerry was in Belgium on Tuesday but will go back to Israel on Wednesday and also visit Ramallah, West Bank, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
No decisions have been made about Pollard’s release, which sources familiar with the talks have cautioned is far from certain and would need to be approved by President Barack Obama. Pollard’s possible release was being discussed as part of a broader agreement that has not been finalized.
In exchange for the release, the sources have said that Israel would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians, which could include a settlement freeze, the release of additional prisoners beyond the current group in dispute, and an agreement to continue peace negotiations beyond the end-of-April deadline.
Pollard was convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel and is serving a life sentence in the United States. His imprisonment has been a source of tension between the U.S. and Israel.