Former CIA Director James Woolsey has reiterated his call to release Jonathan Pollard, who is now in his 29th year behind bars in the US on charges of spying for Israel.
Speaking exclusively to Arutz Sheva, Woolsey noted that the time Pollard has served already is unprecedented for the crimes he was convicted of; namely, spying for a US ally. In the shady world of espionage, even friendly nations spy on each other, he pointed out - an argument Israeli leaders have made particularly ardently since revelations late last year that the US was spying on its closest allies, including Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
"The US has had friends and allies spy against it throughout its history," he said. "We have imprisoned South Korean-Americans, Greek-Americans, Filipino-Americans for spying on the US... they stayed in prison for a few years... two or three years, in one case close to 10 years - but that's all, not close to a quarter of a century!"
The former CIA chief challenged what he saw as discrimination in the case of Pollard, saying he sees "no reason why Pollard should be treated differently than those spies were. He's long past having served any kind of parallel sentence.
"What I tell the people who claim they want him to continue in prison is: why don't you just pretend he's a Greek-American and release him?"
Woolsey was speaking at a security conference in Washington D.C. on Monday, where experts discussed the threat posed by Iran to American security.
Woolsey also addressed ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, saying that while in theory peace agreements are always "a good idea", he was "skeptical of the current efforts" brokered by the Obama administration.
Interestingly, his greatest concern touched upon the controversial issue of whether Israelis currently living in Judea and Samaria could remain there as part of a future "Palestinian state" - a debate which nearly threatened to tear apart the current Israeli coalition government.
Although he implied that he saw such an arrangement as a fair one as part of a final status agreement, he pointed out that in the current climate of extremism and anti-Semitic incitement within PA-controlled areas it would be impossible to guarantee the safety of Jews who remained in "Palestine".
"I think it is still not the case that the Palestinians will not refrain from killing Jews ...who live in the West Bank," he said.
"In order to have a peaceful two-state solution, the Palestinians need to behave more like the Israelis," he continued, pointing to the rights granted to Israel's own Arab minority and asserting that currently "there is no remote parallel to the way Jews in the West Bank would be treated (under the PA) and the way Israeli-Arabs are teated in israel. Until that parallel exists... I don't think there be any kind of a reasonable settlement" between the two sides.
Woolsey also addressed the issue of a nuclear Iran, saying that the acquisition of nuclear weapons by the Islamic Republic would change the entire political situation in the Middle East "for the worst".
But he had little faith in the ability of the Obama administration to solve the issue, given the lack of resolve in Washington to keep a convincing military option on the table.
"It would excellent if we had a President who was willing to take firm stand and put that kind of fear in the hearts of the mullahs in Iran. But we don't, and therefore there is only one military force in the Middle East that's capable of keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and that's the IDF."
He cautioned that he did not see it as "the IDF's job" to prevent a nuclear Iran, and that the US had the capability to do so itself. However at the moment he claimed "the chance of Obama doing that is virtually zero."