Once again, Jonathan Pollard’s name has been mentioned in a possible deal to salvage the faltering Israel-Palestinian peace talks, according to Israel Radio.
According to the report, officials in Washington say that they have not ruled out Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposal that Pollard be released as a gesture to secure Israel’s agreement to free Israeli Arabs
convicted of terrorist acts, a Palestinian demand. The proposal was reported some weeks ago.
The sources of the story, identified only as western diplomatic sources, would not say whether they believed President Barack Obama would agree to such a move, though the U.S. is said to be desperate to keep the talks alive somehow.
Last week, Israeli officials, notably chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, cast doubt on whether there would in fact be a final round of 104 prisoner releases, given that they were a goodwill gesture predicated on progress in the talks, which has not materialized. The government has come under increasing pressure to cancel the release, scheduled for the end of March.
The officials said that Abbas refused Obama’s request to soften his demands as they relate to the prisoner release, according to Israel Radio.
Obama reportedly asked Abbas during their meeting in Washington last week to consider a delay in the release, but he flatly refused.
Regarding the nettlesome issue of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Israeli officials expressed hope that a “creative solution” could be found that would satisfy both sides.