Report: Netanyahu asks Trump to release Jonathan Pollard

Israeli PM reportedly asks US President to allow Jonathan Pollard to move to Israel, but not to remove all parole restrictions.

Gary Willig ,

Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asked US President Donald Trump to allow Jonathan Pollard to fly to Israel, Channel 2 reported Tuesday.

According to the report, Netanyahu made the appeal through people close to President Trump, in light of the efforts by the Trump Administration to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Pollard was convicted for spying for Israel in 1987 and given a life sentence. He was granted parole after serving 30 years in prison in 2015 during which he was not allowed to attend his father's funeral. Once on parole, he was placed under restrictive conditions, including a curfew from 7:00 PM to 7:00 AM. He is forced to wear an electronic monitoring device. Any computer he uses is monitored. The restrictions have prevented Pollard from finding employment, and even from attending Shabbat services at a synagogue on Friday nights.

Pollard was also not allowed to leave the country under the parole restrictions.

Pollard's sentence and parole conditions have been criticized as vindictive and completely out of proportion for the crime committed and the length of the sentence served in prison.. No other US citizen has ever received a life sentence for spying for an ally.

Successive Israeli governments have called for Pollard's release. However, no American Administration has considered the case.

According to the report, Pollard would still be under the restrictive parole conditions if he was allowed to move to Israel under Netanyahu's proposal.

The assumption is that right-wing elements in Israel might soften their opposition to Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Authority if Pollard was allowed to move to Israel in what is termed a "trust-building measure.".