“Unfortunately, it seems that the Americans are determined to release Pollard only through the normal procedures in their prison system there,” an Israeli diplomatic official said.
Pollard, 58, was arrested by U.S. authorities in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison for spying for Israel. He will be eligible for parole in November 2015.
Meanwhile, Yediot Aharonot reported that both Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman and Livni are against holding a national referendum for very different reasons. Lieberman has already told Netanyahu he does not expect the renewed negotiations to succeed and wants the government to push for an interim long-term deal with Abbas within temporary borders. Livni’s position is that only Israel’s democratically elected government has the right to negotiate a final deal with the Palestinians.
“We don’t hold national referendums when we go to war, so why do we need a referendum on a peace agreement?” Livni asked.
Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich has publicly stated she will back Netanyahu’s efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians.
“I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu, who declared loud and clear that he supports the two-state solution, will make the necessary decisions,” Yachimovich said.
“We should not just settle for a renewal of negotiations but do everything possible to work toward real accords.”
Yachimovich’s remarks led several political commentators to predict that if Netanyahu finds himself close to a deal with the Palestinians, he will change the composition of his coalition by replacing Habayit Hayehudi with the Labor Party. They speculate that in that scenario, Shas may also be invited the join the government.
(Supplemental reporting by JNS, JTA)