White House spokespeople denied reports that US Secretary of State John Kerry has offered to release longtime prisoner Jonathan Pollard, Yediot Aharonot reported Sunday.
Reports surfaced last week that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had approached Kerry, and demanded Pollard's release within the framework of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).
Netanyahu linked Pollard's release with the fourth batch of terrorists due to be released as part of the negotiating process, stating that MKs were unhappy with the measure and that releasing Pollard would be enough to appease them.
Activists involved in the case denied the reports, however, calling the media circus "a political ploy" and noting that no official word had been released that an offer had even been made. White House officials have apparently confirmed those reports on Sunday, according to the Israeli daily.
Pollard has been subject of a high-profile campaign for his release, after being held in the US for more than 28 years on spying allegations. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and held since.
While several efforts have been made to secure his release over the intervening decades, calls for his release have resurfaced since it was revealed earlier this month that the US and UK have been spying on top Israeli officials, including the Prime Minister. Pollard was arrested on charges far less serious, critics noted, and slammed the Obama administration for "hypocrisy."
The calls for Pollard's release escalated so much so that over 106 MKs attended a special Knesset session last Wednesday to protest US President Barack Obama's refusal to release the prisoner, and signed a petition urging the President to reconsider.