'President Trump, let Jonathan Pollard come home to Israel'

Israeli Minister calls on President Trump to pardon paroled former spy Jonathan Pollard, allowing him to move to Israel.

David Rosenberg , | updated: 5:24 PM

Jonathan Pollard
Jonathan Pollard

A senior Israeli lawmaker urged President Donald Trump to issue a presidential pardon to a former spy paroled after spending 30 years behind bars.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on Sunday, Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) implored President Trump to allow convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to leave the United States and immigrate to Israel.

"In order to make the celebration even happier,” said Katz, referring to the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th Independence Day, “I would like to ask our great friend President Trump, to give the Israeli public one more present, and to allow Jonathan Pollard to come to Israel, and celebrate with us in Jerusalem," Katz said at the Jerusalem Post event.

Pollard, 63, served as an analyst for the US Navy in the 1980s, during which time he was recruited by Israeli intelligence to collect information on Israel’s behalf regarding regional threats.

In 1985, Pollard was discovered by US law enforcement officials, and after seeking asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington, was turned over to the FBI.

Given a life sentence in November 1985, Pollard was paroled 30 years later in November 2015.

Supporters of the convicted spy said the life sentence far exceeded the punishments meted out in similar cases, noting that Pollard had spied on behalf of a friendly power, and claimed he did not reveal information damaging to the US.

Israeli lawmakers, including successive premiers and presidents, had lobbied the White House to pardon Pollard, but to no avail.

During his speech Sunday, Katz praised President Trump’s “brave and just decision” to relocate the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and urged Western allies to back Trump’s hawkish position against Tehran and Iran’s nuclear program.

"Now is the time to take the coalition that defeated ISIS, and to build a Western-Arab front against Iran on the nuclear issue, and on the regional issue," he said. "There must be a coalition that will confront Iran and its proxies: politically, economically, and if necessary, also militarily."

Katz at Jerusalem Post Conference Marc Israel Sellem