Daily Israel Report

Expert: Terrorists Likely to Go Free, But Not Pollard

Dr. Aryeh Bachrach believes Israel is likely to end up releasing terrorists, while Jonathan Pollard remains in prison in the U.S.
By Moshe Cohen
First Publish: 4/3/2014, 2:43 PM

Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard
Yehuda Glick

In a worst-case scenario, Israel is likely to end up releasing Palestinian terrorists – and Jonathan Pollard will remain in prison in the U.S. That is the scenario Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose son was killed in a terror attack in 1995, sees taking place in the coming days. While Israel has so far held out and refused to release a fourth batch of terrorists promised last year, but given the history of these releases – including Israel's willingness to comply and the Palestinian Authority's refusal to back down – Bachrach sees the mass release of terrorists in the coming days as almost inevitable.

This would be the fourth time Israel is set to release terrorists in the latest “round” of releases, which began last year. Israel committed to releasing over 100 terrorists, many responsible for the deaths of multiple Israelis, as a “gesture” to tempt PA chief Mahmoud Abbas to restart talks with Israel after a three year hiatus. So far, Israel has released more than 75 terrorists.

Another 26 were set to be released last weekend, but the government held up the release at the last moment. In response, PA threatened to cut off talks with Israel altogether, and sent documents to 15 UN committees and commissions demanding recognition as a full member state, in violation of a commitment they gave not to do so to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

In an attempt to keep the talks going, a deal was proposed whereby Israel would release even more terrorists – as many as 400 – in exchange for Pollard and a PA commitment to keep talking.

While that deal is apparently off the table after the PA demanded no fewer than 1,000 terrorists be released, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is still trying to convince ministers to agree to a mass release, and is dangling the prospect of Pollard's release before them – even though the U.S. has said that they are not promising anything.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Bachrach, head of the Almagor Bereaved Parents' Forum, said that the Americans know who they are dealing with, and probably figure they can “save” Pollard for yet more Israeli concessions. This is not, after all, the Americans promised to release Pollard, and in fact not the first time they promised Netanyahu himself they would do so.

“In the Wye River agreements in 1998, in which Netanyahu was a partner, then President Bill Clinton promised Pollard's release if Netanyahu would agree to surrender part of Hevron,” said Bachrach. “Netanyahu agreed, but Clinton did not pardon Pollard. We gained nothing, while the Palestinians 'conceded' that they no longer had to turn terrorist murders over to Israel, as the Oslo Accords required.

“Abbas has been threatening for a long time to seek recognition at the UN, regardless of our release of terrorists. And he will continue to do so, regardless of the release. We should tell him to do so and deal with the consequences himself,” Bachrach added.