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Rabbis Denounce Pollard Deal

Major Israeli religious figures slam US for holding Pollard "hostage," say releasing terrorists forbidden by the Torah.
By Ido Ben-Porat and Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 4/1/2014, 3:12 PM

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Flash 90

Retired Colonel Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Meir Har-el Hesder Yeshiva (Torah academy) in Modi'in, joined a chorus of criticism over the rumored deal to release US captive Jonathan Pollard in exchange for several harsh concessions for Israel.

"Whoever mistakenly thought that our brother Jonathan Pollard stayed in a US prison because of the terrible harm he could cause to the US's security is wrong," Rabbi Shenvald fired Tuesday afternoon. 

"Once the US decided to trade him for concessions, it really let the cat out of the bag. Pollard is being held hostage for Israel to make serious concessions regarding its security and sovereignty and Pollard's release markets them to the Israeli public." 

"No one imagined that the release of murderers who killed Jews, and will return to terrorist activities, could be the only factor diminishing the 'security risk' that 'exists' over Pollard's release!" he exclaimed. 

"Israelis want to see Pollard here and are outraged by the US holding him hostage for so many years,against the backdrop of Israel being forced to release murderers and dangerous criminals," he continued.

"Smart citizens will not allow the shady business dealings of the Americans and the cynical exploitation of Pollard to go through."

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, also slammed the report Tuesday for failing to address Pollard's own wishes. 

"I met with Pollard [in the past] and heard from him that he did not agree to Israel releasing prisoners for him," Rabbi Eliyahu recounted. He added, regarding the terrorists set to be released, that "it is forbidden to release murders - even those who only tried to kill and failed." 

Terms of the deal

While both the US and Israel have now admitted that Pollard's release is on the table, the State of Israel itself has not officially announced that it is accepting the proposal. If true, however, Pollard would be released just prior to the Pesach (Passover) holiday - the Jewish holiday of freedom and redemption. 

The exchange will also include a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem, according to the source. 

"It won't be a complete freeze," the source stated. "Tenders and projects already being built will continue, as well as government and public buildings in Jerusalem." 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly refused to a full construction freeze, and will only halt construction for government buildings in Judea and Samaria. According to Channel 2, he is in the midst of updating senior ministers on the status of the deal. 

IDF Radio reports Tuesday afternoon that there is an additional concession: both sides must remain in peace talks well into 2015. 

Criticism against the proposed deal has mushroomed, with several MKs, Ministers, and public figures slamming the government for capitulating to the PA's demands.

Former National Security Advisor Ya'akov Amidror even compared Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to Yitzhak Rabin on Tuesday, ranking Netanyahu as "even worse' since he is willing to concede, as it seems, parts of Judea and Samaria.