Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard feels he owes a special debt of gratitude to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for trying to save him from prison and expressed the hope that he would be released in time to visit Sharon before he passes away, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Sharon was reported still in critical condition on Thursday, doctors saying that only a miracle could save the 85-year-old politician whose condition deteriorated over the course of the week.
Family members were gathered at his bedside and photographers were summoned urgently to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer where Sharon was being treated. Plans for a state funeral were being made quietly behind the scenes.
“Jonathan feels he owes Sharon a debt of gratitude that no one else is aware of,” a close associate of Pollard said on Wednesday. “He would very much like to have a chance to pay his respects to Sharon before he dies.”
“Sharon was the only one who fought tooth and nail with then-prime minister Shimon Peres and the rest of the cabinet, arguing with them not to return the U.S. documents that Pollard had provided to Israel,” the associate said. “Sharon warned that doing so would endanger the agent’s life.”
Sharon’s role in the aftermath of Pollard’s arrest is recorded in the 1987 Eban Commission Report, the Knesset’s official investigation of the case. It says that Sharon insisted that Israel must rescue Pollard before any other action was considered, that his safe return must be the state’s highest priority.
The Eban Report indicated that two other ministers supported Sharon’s position, but he was outvoted and Peres’s promise to then-Secretary of State George Schultz to return the documents was ratified. The report also confirmed that the documents were the sole evidence U.S. prosecutors had against Pollard.
Without the documents, which bore his fingerprints, they would not have had a case against him.
When the cabinet voted to return the documents, the report said Sharon declared: “You have just killed the agent!”
Sources close to Pollard said that, twice a day, Pollard uses part of his small allotment of the telephone time he receives from the prison to ask for updates on Sharon’s condition.
“He is hoping that Sharon will hang on, so that he will have the opportunity to say good-bye in person, the way that he was never able to say good-bye to his own father,” a source close to Pollard said.
“As a child, Jonathan’s hero and role model was his father, Dr. Morris Pollard, a world-renowned professor and award-winning microbiologist, as well as a decorated U.S. soldier and war hero. Later in life, he looked up to another war hero as well, and that was Sharon.
“Jonathan has made a lifelong study of military history, and his respect for Sharon as a military officer, commander, paratrooper, and military strategist never wavered, despite his deep disappointment in Sharon as a politician and a prime minister.”