Knesset c’tee meeting on efforts to release Pollard, National Union MK Arieh Eldad accuses US of spying on Israel
If US President Barack Obama does not commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard by the November 6 US election, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should expose American efforts to spy on Israel, National Union MK Arieh Eldad said Tuesday at a Knesset State Control Committee meeting monitoring progress in efforts to bring about Pollard’s release.
Eldad noted an Associated Press report over the weekend about a break-in at a CIA-owned apartment in Tel Aviv. While the report sought to prove that Israel was monitoring American intelligence operatives, Eldad said it should have raised the question of why the US was operating in Israel.
“If Obama realizes that he needs American Jewish votes or money, there is hope to bring about Pollard’s release by November,” Eldad said. “But if not, Israel must remove the [US’s] mask. They say one of the problems of the Pollard case is that countries do not spy on their friends. It’s time to say out out loud what the CIA was doing in that apartment and what is happening on the roof of the US embassy in Tel Aviv. They are spying on a friendly country.”
Eldad blasted President Shimon Peres for receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama at a June 13 ceremony in Washington, calling it shameful for him to accept the prize while Obama was preventing Pollard’s freedom.
Committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) complained that the Americans reneged on agreements with Israel when they sought the life sentence Pollard was given in 1987 and when then-US president Bill Clinton broke a promise to Netanyahu to release him as part of the 1998 Wye River Accords.
Ariel expressed disappointment that the Prime Minister’s Office did not send a representative to the hearing despite repeated requests made to cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser and Netanyahu’s senior adviser Ron Dermer. Ariel said Netanyahu’s advisers told him they did not have anything to report to the committee.
“It was a very bad mistake by the Prime Minister’s Office not to send anyone,” Ariel said. “We tried for a long time to coordinate the meeting with them but they are clearly avoiding coming. I see this as very grave, and I will consider issuing an injunction requiring the prime minister to come.”
Forcing a prime minister to testify to a Knesset committee rarely happens. An injunction requires a majority of the 13 MKs on the committee.
Effi Lahav, who heads the Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home testified to the MKs that there has been a rise in support for clemency from from American Jews and top current and former American officials.
“We know from our meetings with Americans that they have never challenged us with facts that disprove our case,” Lahav said. “We want to believe there has been a change for the better in how the issue is being handled by the [Israeli] government. But what matters to us is results. As long as Pollard is in jail, there must be oversight and that’s why this meeting is so important.”