The latest reports from Israeli Channel 2 say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to hold up the peace talks with the Palestinians, conditioning them on the US agreeing to free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard.
The US-born Pollard was convicted of stealing classified material on behalf of Israel, and remains in prison. Israel granted him citizenship several years into his prison term and has since demanded his “return.”
Channel 2’s report said it was unclear at which point Netanyahu was intending to hold up the peace process, and that it could come either in response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace framework, or as a condition of following through on already promised releases of detained Palestinians.
White House officials have been quoted in the Israeli press saying President Obama remains opposed to releasing Pollard, though their determination to advance the Israel-Palestinian talks, despite most of Israel’s government being opposed to reaching a deal on general principle, may convince them to give in. That’s Netanyahu’s hope, at least.