There has been a flurry of articles about the possibility that Jonathan Pollard, convicted Israeli spy who is now languishing in a North Carolina prison, might be released by President Barack Obama as a gesture to revive the moribund Middle East peace talks. Media accounts from Israel suggest that Secretary of State John Kerry, under pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has raised the issue of Pollard’s release with the president as an incentive to encourage Israel to complete its own release of Palestinian Israelis being held, which it has been delaying. The Palestinian Authority has reportedly indicated that it would not object to such a move.
As Pollard spied against the United States, not against either Israel or Palestine, the viewpoints from Tel Aviv and Ramallah are somewhat irrelevant but nevertheless interesting for anyone following the ebb and flow of the world’s most protracted search for a solution to two peoples who want to occupy the same space at the same time. Pollard’s supporters, including many former government officials and politicians, tend also to be strong advocates for Israel, which means they are seeing the issue in terms of their own perception of Tel Aviv’s interests.