Netanyahu Proposes Settlement Freeze if Spy Freed From US Prison
September 21, 2010
(ChattahBox World News)—-The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the Israeli government may be trying to broker a deal with the Obama administration, to swap the release of jailed American spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for a settlement freeze in occupied territories. It’s unlikely U.S. intelligence officials would agree to such a deal. But this is nothing new. Previous Israeli leaders have attempted to secure the release of Pollard, convicted of selling U.S. secrets to the Israelis, as a condition of going forward with Mideast peace talks.
The story first aired on Israel’s army radio, which suggested Netanyahu was seeking Pollard’s release to appease right-wing cabinet members.
“According to Israel’s army radio, the prime minister’s office has approached Washington with a deal to continue the moratorium for another three months in return for the release of Jonathan Pollard, a former navy intelligence analyst convicted of spying in 1987. Binyamin Netanyahu, has long pressed for Pollard to be freed, but winning his release would help him sell concessions to rightwing members of his cabinet and the settlers.”
“Army radio said that Netanyahu had asked an unnamed intermediary to sound out the Obama administration on the proposal, but it is not known what response was received. Other Israeli media reported that the prime minister dispatched the intermediary to approach the Americans “discreetly, and unofficially.”‘
Israeli government officials denied a deal for Pollard’s release was in the works, but the paper said their denials later became “more equivocal.”
Netanyahu, who visited Pollard in prison in 2002, has long supported the release of Pollard who is serving a life sentence for espionage. Before he was elected as Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu pledged he would seek Pollard’s freedom.
U.S. officials told The New York Times that the idea has indeed been floated.
“The Israelis have mentioned it in recent days,” said a senior American official. “This is an important issue for israeli governments going back more than a decade. It surfaces from time to time and has again.”
Direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are sputtering along. But a moratorium on Jewish settlements in occupied territories, is a condition of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ continued participation in the talks. So far, Netanyahu has been unwilling to extend the freeze on Jewish settlements.
Photo Source: U.S. Naval intelligence