Several Israeli experts in the US-Israel relationship are in agreement today that the upcoming release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard will “do nothing” to improve the ties between the two nations, despite decades of Israel demanding Pollard’s release.
The Texas-born Pollard was a civilian employee of the US Navy, and was sentenced to life in prison for passing classified data to the Israeli government. According to Pollard’s wife, he viewed spying for Israel as a “moral obligation” because he is Jewish. Israel made him a citizen in the 1990s, after he’d already served years in prison.
Analysts say they believe Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has so heavily invested in railing against the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, and blaming the US for that deal, that even Pollard simply dwarfs this issue. The initial reports on Pollard’s release suggested the Obama Administration was doing so primarily to placate Netanyahu.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has reiterated his opposition to releasing Pollard this week, referring back to his 2001 memo and a 1998 letter warning releasing a high-profile spy would undermine efforts to keep spies out of the government.