JERUSALEM (AP) — The United States is talking with Israel about the possibility of releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard from prison early, a person familiar with Mideast peace negotiations said Monday. That would come in exchange for Israeli concessions that would allow faltering peace talks with the Palestinians to continue beyond an end-of-April deadline.
The person cautioned that such a step by the United States – which would be a dramatic turnaround from previous refusals – was far from a done deal and that discussions with Israel on the matter are ongoing. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the negotiations on the record.
In return, Israel would have to undertake significant concessions to the Palestinians.
U.S. defense and intelligence officials have consistently argued against releasing Pollard, who is serving a life sentence.
Pollard was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handlers. He was arrested in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison.
Pollard could be released from prison on November 21, 2015 – 30 years after his arrest – because he was convicted and sentenced before the abolishment of parole in the federal prison system. He has been serving his sentence at a facility in Butner, N.C.