After the unveiling of the Trump peace plan and the expected imminent release of Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from Russian prison, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon pull another rabbit out of his hat, ahead of the Knesset elections: bringing Jonathan Pollard to Israel.
A source in Netanyahu’s Likud party has told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, that Netanyahu is aiming to have the former spy land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2 vote.
Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu in August and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge US President Donald Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.
Pollard, a former civilian US Navy analyst, was given a life sentence in 1987 for passing secrets to Israel. His imprisonment was a longtime point of tension in Israeli-US relations, with Israeli and Jewish leaders petitioning their US counterparts for years in order to secure his release.
After his release in November 2015, Pollard was given a five-year probation period, during which he is not allowed to travel outside the United States. The parole terms also require him to stay in his New York home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., to submit any computer he uses for inspection, and to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times.
In 2017, a US federal appeals court rejected Pollard’s request to lift his parole conditions.
The 63-year-old was granted Israeli citizenship in 1995 and says he wants to settle in the Jewish state with his family.