Netanyahu: Looking Forward to Pollard's Release

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks with Esther Pollard following the announcement of Jonathan Pollard's parole.

Ben Ariel ,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday evening with Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, following the announcement of Pollard's parole.

"After decades of effort, Jonathan Pollard will finally be released. Throughout his time in prison, I consistently raised the issue of his release in my meetings and conversations with the leadership of successive U.S. administrations. We are looking forward to his release," Netanyahu said.

Earlier on Tuesday it was announced that Pollard, who has spent 30 years - half his life - in an American prison on charges of spying for Israel, will be released on Friday, November 20.

The announcement is official confirmation of reports that indicated Pollard would be freed in November during parole talks required by the terms of his incarceration. His release was to be on November 21, but was moved up a day so as not to conflict with Shabbat.

Pollard's lawyers, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, said, "The decision to grant parole was made unanimously by the three members of the Parole Commission, who make their decisions independently of any other U.S. government agency. The decision is not connected to recent developments in the Middle East."

Secretary of State John Kerry likewise denied that Pollard's release was meant to placate Israeli opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, telling reporters: "No, no, no. Truthfully. I haven't even had  a conversation with them."

The lawyers added that Pollard will be forced to stay in American territory for the next five years according to the release conditions.

Pollard's health has been failing after having spent over half his life in jail - he is the only American ever to receive a life sentence for passing classified information to a U.S. ally.

Pollard was handed a life-sentence, unlike spies from other allied or even enemy nations that got off with a tiny fraction of his sentence.

In a previous parole hearing held in July 2014 his release was rejected on the basis of a now declassified document, that critics say revealed the largely trumped up charges against Pollard.