The United States and Israel are reportedly discussing whether convicted spy Jonathan Pollard could be released early from his life sentence, the latest in U.S. efforts to reignite peace negotiations in the Mideast between the Jewish nation and the Palestinians.
Pollard, a Jewish American, served as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy. He was caught handing over thousands of classified documents to his Israeli contacts and was arrested in 1985 by FBI agents in Washington. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to life and since, the White House has refused to consider any early release.
But the Obama administration is said to be mulling just that, in order to jump start peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, The Associated Press reported.
A person familiar with the discussions said that any early release would be predicated upon Israel's agreement to freeze builds in contested territories and to release more Palestinian prisoners that previously agreed, AP said. Israel would also have to promise to stay at the negotiating table past the previously set deadline of the end of April, the source said.
Pollard is currently set for release from his Butner, N.C., cell on Nov. 21, 2015.
The White House's most recent statements on Pollard have been bland.
Spokesman Jay Carney said just this week: "[Pollard] is a person who is convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. I don't have any updates on his situation," AP reported.
That's hardly more insightful than what Mr. Obama said last March, during a trip to the Middle East. Then, he told an Israeli station that Pollard "is an individual who committed a very serious crime here in the United States. I have no plans for releasing Jonathan Pollard immediately but what I am going to be doing is to make sure that he, like every other American who's been sentenced, is accorded the same kinds of review and the same examination of the equities that any other individual would provide."
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