Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90
In January 2014, Israelis protest continued against U.S. incarceration of convicted Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard, then entering its 29th year.

The United States has allegedly pulled out its ace in the hole this week, reportedly offering at last to free imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard in exchange for the release by Israel of 26 Palestinian Authority terrorist prisoners.

The move, reported Wednesday morning by Ilil Shachar on IDF Army Radio, would force Israel to complete the last of a four-stage prisoner release that has thus far freed 78 PA inmates from Israeli jails.


Israeli government officials could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett told The Jewish Press, “Nothing is official, and we have not been given any information at this point. We haven’t been told anything other than the report we heard this morning on the radio.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed eight months ago to the “good will gesture” as a means of testing the truth of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s resolve as a peace partner in working towards a final status deal.

Netanyahu stated from the outset in an “open letter to the citizens of Israel” that the process would depend upon the actions of the PA and its ability to prove it is “really serious and not playing games.”

Pollard’s incarceration in 1985 on a single charge of passing classified information to an allied nation (Israel) has long been a sore point for Jews and Israelis the world over. The crime normally carries a maximum prison term of two to four years. Pollard has been often been held in harsh and sometimes inhumane conditions, and has suffered serious health problems as a result. Despite numerous appeals for his release by hundreds of American and Israeli leaders, every U.S. president has turned a deaf ear to requests for clemency, to terminate his sentence to time served.

According to the report, the alleged U.S. decision to offer Pollard in exchange for the PA prisoners came after Prime Minister Netanyahu told the White House officials that too many of his coalition members opposed the release.

Among those opposing the release were senior officials including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Communications Minister Gilad Erdan and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz.

Shachar reported the U.S. proposed the swap deal for Pollard on condition that Israel would free the fourth round of 26 PA terrorists, which includes some 20 Israeli Arab citizens. The PA, in return, would also agree not to withdraw from the talks at least until the end of 2014.

Nevertheless, it is entirely possible the offer may have come too late.

Israeli advocacy groups, the Israeli public and numerous Israeli officials appear fed up with the White House intransigence on Pollard’s incarceration – and resent using him as a bargaining chip over the safety of Israeli citizens. Some have said they will not agree to support such a deal.

Pollard himself has said that he will not agree to be used in a prisoners swap for Arab terrorists.

Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League yesterday at its summit in Kuwait that the PA has no interest in continuing negotiations with Israel. Both the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority has categorically refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish State. They continue to insist on the so-called “right of return” for millions of Arabs, generations later, to return to homes they fled after the wars of 1948 and 1967. They also insist Israel hand them a major part of Jerusalem including Judaism’s holy sites, to which Jews would then have no access whatsoever.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other officials are set to meet with PA leaders to discuss the proposal today.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.


  1. Shame on the 0bama pro-fascist regime is right ! I do not believe that Pollard would want terrorists released even for his release ! How long will it take for the world & more significantly the USA to see what monsters USAll have ” voted” into the WH ?

  2. First some questions, Is this the great American president? Blackmail? Is this a moral attitude of a president of the unique superpower in the world? For this man American Jews voted and gave money?he will free a moribund Jew and Israel a lot of terrorists? What a shame!. Where are Jstreet representatives?

  3. As much as I feel for the Pollard family, I would have to say it is a injustice to all Israel to make this trade. The animals in jail should be dead if they committed murder period, that is real justice, let them go and you fight them again.

  4. Mr Pollard has said that he does not want to be a pawn in obamas game. He should have been freed YEARS ago. Other spies who fed information to nations that were not allies, spent 4 or 5 years in jail. The way Mr Pollard has been treated is nothing short of cruel and inhumane.
    Setting the remaining palestinian terrorists free, will only result in more
    terror and murder of Israelis. Giving them Israeli land will only result in making Israel UNDEFENDABLE!!! God Bless Israel, and the IDF.

  5. It is ludicrous that In order talk about peace known terrorist need to be released. The purpose of talking with the PA is to stop terrorism, yet they demand that terrorists need to be released in order to talk. This makes absolutely no sense. In the past released terrorists have received heroes welcomes by the PA. This sends a clear message that the PA has no intention ever of stopping terrorism. By releasing these terrorists Israel is encouraging and recognizing that terrorism is acceptable.

  6. Mr. Pollard seems like a hostage being used to release 26 murderers back into the world. The US is not a terrorist nation, and to use one man with no blood on his hands to facilitate the release of men with gallons of blood on their hands does not seem like the actions of a state that does not support terrorism. At the very least, it's not a fair trade. Do the right thing and release Pollard without any other conditions. As for the 26 murderers, the PA should pay for what blood they've already spilled before they're allowed another chance to spill more.

  7. The trouble with this article is that it opens with the claim that Pollard is Obama’s “ace in the hole”. That is nonsense. This is a minor tool of leverage at most. Obama has far worse up his sleeve.

    First, you have to realize the central purpose behind the Obama presidency.

    While there were other forces behind the “Obama phenomenon”, the decisive factor responsible for his being in the WH was the influence of the Gulf Arab petrodollar pimps. Absent their influence over the U.S. media, academe, the D.C. beltway with so many relevant luminaries in their pocket (Carter, Powell, Baker, and so, so many others), plus what were rumored to be hundreds of millions of dollars worth of laundered campaign donations (both times), he never would have made it.

    Once we accept this, the obvious question to then ask is this: What was in it for the Gulf Arabs? You can bet they didn’t care about national healthcare for the U.S.

    He was put there on a “screw Israel” scholarship, so to speak. His primary goal as president was to either a) shove a Saudi-style “peace” [read: surrender] plan down Israel’s throat, enabling her ultimate dismantlement as a viable Jewish state, or failing that, b) sabotage the U.S.-Israeli strategic partnership, and from there, abandon Israel in the UN so as to allow for her political and economic strangulation as a pariah state, in the manner of Rhodesia in the 70s.

    A large segment of the U.S. foreign policy and defense establishment – largely the ones “on the take” from the Petrodollar Pimp Empire and/or who are simply rabid anti-Semitic jerks – are on board with this program. They see this appeasement of bloody-minded Islamist sensibilities at Israel’s expense as the shortest and cheapest route towards a withdrawal from the War on Islamist Terror. [One might ask the Russians – those historically great friends of Israel – how well beating up on Israel keeps away Islamist terrorists (NOT), but as we all know, facts, history, and reason never interfere with the thinking of anti-Semites.]

    Everything Obama does in foreign policy revolves around this set of objectives I outline above. EVERYTHING. This is his #1 priority, eclipsing all others. To the extent that he can’t seem to do anything else – like make sure his signature domestic legislative achievement is not a total disaster – it is because he is not there to do anything else. All other issues are of secondary or lower importance to this singular, overriding mission of his.

    With the above in mind, going forward, expect the following:

    Remember that application for statehood that Abbas submitted to the UNSC back in September of ’11? Note how that never came up for a vote, even two and a half years hence? THAT is Obama’s “ace in the hole” (besides the threat of an imminently nuclear Iran that he holds over Israel’s head).

    Before Obama is out of office – I expect this to happen late this fall, right after the mid-term elections – said application will magically be brought up for a vote on the UNSC. Obama will either abstain or vote in favor of it. If there are no vetoes, and if Israel does not subsequently withdraw fully from J&S per pre-’67 lines forthwith, then the UN will impose massive economic sanctions/embargoes on Israel with the aim of forcing her compliance, or her dissolution as a viable state.

    I don’t think this scheme will work out as Obama thinks it will; Israel is not 70s Rhodesia and no matter what they may say in the UN, many countries will continue to trade with Israel anyway. The EU will probably comply and that will hurt; Congress here will go nuts, of course, though Obama simply won’t care.

    It will be a very rough and scary time, but it won’t be fatal, and indeed, I for one expect this to ultimately blow up in Obama’s face. I’m just telling you what you can expect, but be strong over there and you will prevail.

    Sorry about Obama. I never voted for him. He too will pass.

    Chazak! Am Israel Chai!!

  8. Only when Pollard is safely in Israel with A duly signed & recorded Presidential Pardon from Obama absolving him from any & all crimes against the United States or any State therein and publically broadcast to the world by Obama, should Israel discuss any prisoner release……

  9. It is not 26 arabs, there have been many more "terrorist prisoners" already released, hundreds during the time that Jonathan Pollard has been incarcerated, surely such bartering for one life has reached maximum payment by now, America is charging even more percentages than a pay-day loan! Just as one more bullying tactic against Jews and Israel that should be put in the book of recompence…!

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