A peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians may hinge on the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, according to Israeli media reports on Monday night.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will ask President Barack Obama to free Pollard as a condition for signing a framework agreement with the Palestinians, according to the report.
In addition, a swap of six Israeli-Arab security prisoners for Pollard is under consideration.
However, a White House official was quoted as saying on Monday that Obama has no intention of freeing Pollard and that there is no connection between his case and disclosures of U.S. spying on Israel.
Prodded by an outburst of indignation and anger from within his own government over alleged American spying on Israel while continuing to imprison Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, Netanyahu on Monday took a somewhat stronger line on the spying issue and reaffirmed his pledge to make every effort on Pollard’s behalf.
“With regard to things published in the past few days, I have asked for an examination of the matter,” Netanyahu said in broadcast remarks referring to the espionage charges.
Documents leaked by Edward Snowden implicate the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ in a 2009 targeting of email communications by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Olmert.
“In the close ties between Israel and the United States, there are things that must not be done and that are not acceptable to us,” Netanyahu told a meeting of the Likud party. However, his comments stopped short of saying whether Israel intended to seek clarification from Washington.
Netanyahu also informed Likud that he met Monday with Pollard’s wife, Esther.
“I met now with Esther Pollard and updated her on the nonstop efforts to win Jonathan’s release. He should have been released long ago. I think this is understood by everyone here, and I believe it is also understood by an increasingly larger crowd in the United States,” Netanyahu said.
On Sunday, after several high-ranking Israeli officials called again for Pollard’s immediate release, Netanyahu said he did not need any “special occasion” to discuss the case with Washington.