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‘No decision has been made on Jonathan Pollard,’ says State Dep’t

Jonathan Pollard

Jonathan Pollard

Yesterday the internet was alive with reports that the U.S. would announce that it would soon release Jonathan Pollard, the American spy for Israel who has served 27 years for giving the Israelis a container full of secret documents he got as a Navy analyst.

News of a “breakthrough” began popping up around social media yesterday morning. It was fed by this story from Al-Arabiya: 

A deal has been reached between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to extend US-brokered peace talks, according to Middle Eastern news outlet Al-Arabiya.
As part of the deal, Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is to be freed from his 27-year detention in the US while the contentious fourth set of Palestinian prisoners are to be released.

Jeffrey Goldberg at first poured water on the reports, then seemed to feed them himself:

Ma’an said it wasn’t true:

“There was no agreement on anything, and despite all American efforts regarding the prisoners no agreement was not reached,” the source added.

He denied claims of the possibility of exiling Palestinian prisoners as part of a deal to secure their release…

The conflicting reports come amid a growing crisis in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu called for an end to coordination with Palestinian officials after the PLO decided to apply to join 15 international conventions.

The State Department also denied that anything was afoot at the briefing yesterday afternoon. You’ll see that Jen Psaki’s answer echoes Jay Carney at the White House a few days ago, “No decision has been made.”

QUESTION: When you say you’re narrowing the gaps, what gaps? What are you actually physically trying to do?… [D]o these include the prisoners, the prisoner issue?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of issues that are being discussed. Certainly, that’s one of them. There are other topics I’m not going to go into greater detail on that have been out there.

QUESTION: And is the release of Jonathan Pollard among those other topics?

MS. PSAKI: There are a range of topics. I’m not going to detail it further….

QUESTION: — their sources or their reports insist that the deal includes the swap of prisoners, the 30 prisoners that were supposed to be released on the 23rd of – on the 29th of March, another 400 prisoners, but also they insist that Jonathan Pollard is part of the deal. [Ed: it is not clear who is meant by “they”] Could you say or could you tell us or could you deny flatly that he is not part of the deal?

MS. PSAKI: Well, nothing has changed. No decision has been made about Jonathan Pollard. That’s the same as it was last week. And I just made very clear that these reports are premature.

QUESTION: Okay. Now, would the Palestinians have to, let’s say, resend their applications or cancel their applications or call them back with the UN agencies for the talks to continue, or no?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to go into that level of detail, Said.

QUESTION: Okay. But would you say that the Israelis now are either reconciled to this fact that this is done and there is no backtracking by the Palestinians or backpedaling in this case?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to speak on behalf of the Israelis of what they would or wouldn’t feel comfortable with. Obviously, there are a range of issues being discussed, including the Palestinians’ recent steps, including their desire for prisoners to be released, including a range of issues. But I’m not going to go into further detail.

QUESTION: Only if you would indulge me for a second. Now, what does that do to the framework agreement or the 29thof April deadline? I mean, if they decide to go on beyond, so we continue doing the same thing, or is there going to be some sort of an announcement on the 29th that we have covered this period now, the nine-month period and we’re going to another six months or another nine months?

MS. PSAKI: I can’t predict for you, Said. Obviously, if there’s a decision made because of steps by the parties that these talks will continue, then it would take longer than the next couple of weeks to come to a final status agreement. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. We’re taking it one day at a time here.

Politico also is on the story, reporting: “’There is no breakthrough. All of the current rumors that a deal has been reached are false,’ a senior administration official said.”

That’s the latest for now.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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25 Responses

  1. American on April 11, 2014, 1:30 pm

    Release Pollard in exchange for the imprisoned Palestine leader/ resister (whose name I cant remember).
    Would be a good deal.
    We win —first because it will piss off the CIA and FBI rank and file, will piss off the America first heartland followers of the hard right wing.
    Also a win because Israel will just re arrest the Palestine prisoner and leave Obama and Kerry fuming again, possibly fuming enough to slide some knives into Isr tender parts in a low key way.
    So I’m for it. Do it.

    • jenin on April 11, 2014, 1:55 pm

      I totally agree. I told my dad this is the best thing that’s ever happened to his people of course it’s outrageous that the Israel lobby has such a strong hold on US politics, but given that they do, this is the best thing that could happen. Average Americans who tend to support Israel out of ignorance will begin to question and/or be enraged about it. So my fingers are crossed this happens

      • pabelmont on April 11, 2014, 2:18 pm

        Exactly: let Israel “win” on a really outstandingly awful one — one so obvious that rank-and-file Americans can “see” it and react to it and then, under suitable guidance, to the entire AIPAC operation.

        Might even have some positive vibes in the long fight against oligarchy — the ownership of governments by the super-rich.

      • Kathleen on April 11, 2014, 7:14 pm

        The majority of Americans have no idea who Jonathan Pollard is and how horrific his crimes were against the National Security of the U.S. Hell most of the files have never been released. So even people who have been paying attention can not find out how much damage was done. That is why Pollard signed the deal that he did.

        How the hell does the U.S. benefit from this? So Israel is required to release the Palestinian prisoners that they had all ready agreed to release. Why give into their bs again and again?

        Have read as American said above that CIA and FBI agents who are well aware of the damage done will go ape shit. But the MSM will not touch any of this…much

      • Ellen on April 11, 2014, 5:23 pm

        And that is why Pollard is MUCH more valuable for Israeli politics behind bars in the US than released. He is a uniting cause for the masses.

        Released, he is worth nothing to them. The Israeli government knows exactly what he is and does not honestly want him turned over to Israel a free man.

    • Walid on April 11, 2014, 4:36 pm

      “… the imprisoned Palestine leader/ resister”

      Marwan Barghouti, a reincarnated Arafat.

      • dbroncos on April 11, 2014, 11:12 pm


        “Marwan Barghouti, a reincarnated Arafat.”

        What do you mean? What’s your impression of Barghouti? I understood him to be very popular before his thunder was stolen by the triumphant return of the “Tunisians.”

      • Walid on April 12, 2014, 1:52 am

        A personal feeling that he’d be very much like Arafat and popular among his people as you said. I wasn’t a fan.

      • pabelmont on April 12, 2014, 6:53 am

        Putting Palestinian politics to the side, Marwan Barghouti is in jail because — or so I imagine the Israelis would say — he committed (or planned) RETAIL killing of Israelis. Now Begin-Shamir-Sharon and many other Israelis committed WHOLESALE murder of Palestinians and were not imprisoned by Israel.

        A point to consider.

        I like calling for his release (and the release of all other political prisoners held by Israel or by the PA (and who knows by how many other splinter “security” organizations and disorganizations [think of USA’s CIA’s prisoners])), because I’d like to see a robust politics among the Palestinians — and the PA/PLO’s apparent permanent election-free capture of governance (away from the people and away from HAMAS which I also champion and for the same reason, democracy) is horrific because it is undemocratic.

  2. Ael on April 11, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I think dangling Pollard in front of the Israeli government is the administrations way of beating up Israel’s image to the American public. The more they talk about the traitor Pollard, the lower the image sinks.

    I wonder if this is in retaliation for Israel’s lack of support for America’s stance towards Ukraine and Crimea.

    • lysias on April 11, 2014, 6:25 pm

      If Israel really doesn’t support America’s stance towards Ukraine and Crimea, then for once I agree with Israel. Stopped clock, and all that.

    • Keith on April 11, 2014, 6:56 pm

      AEL- “I wonder if this is in retaliation for Israel’s lack of support for America’s stance towards Ukraine and Crimea.”

      What lack of support? I suppose that one could argue that neocon Victoria Nuland doesn’t represent Israel (although Israel’s interests are always close to her heart), however, the presence of traveling sayanim Bernard-Henri Levy in Kiev encouraging the Putsch suggests Israeli complicity, as does the reported presence of Israeli special forces ops among the violent “protesters.” I might add that Israel was all over the Georgia assault on South Ossetia, and performs other services for empire (and itself) in Eastern Europe, the literal birthplace of Ashkenazi Zionism, where Jewish/Zionist solidarity provides a basis for organized activity of various kinds.

      • Citizen on April 12, 2014, 12:27 pm

        Just look at who Nuland is married to.

    • Kathleen on April 11, 2014, 9:51 pm

      Ael there was no way Israel could come out and make a stand on Russia’s takeover of Crimea and “territorial integrity, UN charter and international law” They are in violation of all of the above. But then again so is the U.S. But we have no shame and either does Israel but they are really being focused on right now.

  3. Kathleen on April 11, 2014, 2:51 pm

    Israel stringing it out. All the while expanding illegal housing in E Jerusalem. and illegal settlements in the West Bank. Why go along with this. The one state solution is the only solution. Israel is not going to give up the illegal West Bank settlements.

  4. Reds on April 11, 2014, 3:30 pm

    Worth pointing out that “Al Arabiya”is mainly an Saudi/Dubai newspaper and pretty pro-U.S. It’s the same paper that claimed the Muslim Brotherhood was going to allow Egyptians to have sex with dead spouses.

  5. Justpassingby on April 11, 2014, 3:39 pm

    America bows for Israel again. Really ugly.

  6. HarryLaw on April 11, 2014, 3:52 pm

    I hope I am wrong,but I suspect the Palestinian Leadership will fold again, instead of concentrating on crucial political objectives i.e, enhancing it’s fledgling statehood credentials at the UN through the Agencies, and insisting on no more settlement building anywhere beyond the green line, rather, I think the apolitical Abbas will look to bolster his parlous political base, which may look good short term, but as Netanyahu will never concede a comprehensive settlement freeze, all we can look forward to is another year of fruitless negotiations, and another year when the International Community will be cowed into silence [we don’t want to spoil the talks] with probably another 20,000 settlement units. A win, win for Israel again.

    • Walid on April 11, 2014, 4:25 pm

      And most probably, Barghouti would be thrown into the deal for good measure mostly to help Abbas as I’ve been guessing for a while. There will surely be an extension beyond the April 28 term but it will be announced at the 11th hour with lots of bells and whistles (Pollard, the 30, Barghouti) to make Abbas and Netanyahu come out of this smelling of roses.

      • just on April 11, 2014, 6:02 pm

        And then the Israelis will hunt and re-imprison all of the prisoners all over again. The stench of rotting ‘roses’– fear/Israeli terrorism/backtracking/harassment will again fill the air.

        This whole “shooting fish in a barrel”, “catch and release” only to ‘catch’ again meme is as old as the ILLEGAL Occupation.

        Pollard needs to stay put. Period. All I know for sure is that more Americans need to know what he did to hurt them and benefit himself.

        Then perhaps we can talk about Snowden in an intelligent way.

      • CloakAndDagger on April 11, 2014, 7:11 pm

        @ just

        Pollard needs to stay put. Period. All I know for sure is that more Americans need to know what he did to hurt them and benefit himself.

        The for that to happen is to set him free. Then, watch TSHTF.

    • Kathleen on April 11, 2014, 7:15 pm

      With you HarryLaw. “A win win for Israel again”

    • American on April 11, 2014, 7:52 pm

      @ Harry

      No it wont be a win…Pollards is useless to them except for using his release to bloster their egos and uber creds in Isr.
      We want them to get even more egotistic, be more outrageous, show their a** even more, infuriate more people even more.
      Their hubris will be what destroys them —-feed it and let it grow and grow.
      Let them get confident everyone is under their heel and they will grind their heel on everyone more and more.

      And besides all that getting Pollard isn’t going to change anything at all on Isr side of the so called peace process–they will keep on avoiding it regardless. And Abbas will continue to do what he has done also regardless.

      We should actually gift wrap Pollard and send him over.

  7. Citizen on April 11, 2014, 9:25 pm

    Penny Pritzker remains in charge.

  8. brenda on April 12, 2014, 10:59 am

    I think the use of Pollard by the US was, originally, to be a face-saving device for Netanyahu after he signed on to a peace deal. To take the sting out. To make him look good to the general Israeli public for whom Pollard is an important folk hero.

    Obama and Kerry have been dangling this for a little while now, in various ways. Big write up and editorial in NYT recently. I did wonder if Machiavelli-Obama was milking the Pollard issue for all it was worth — can use it to close a final status agreement, can also use it to subliminally educate the general American public to the perfidy of Israel against US. I think Obama is capable of all that. I also think he is a better chess player than Netanyahu and is already preparing the American public for the next step. Not giving the automatic UN veto if the talks go down without producing and independent Palestine/end of the occupation.

    “Obviously, if there’s a decision made because of steps by the parties that these talks will continue, then it would take longer than the next couple of weeks to come to a final status agreement.” — I think this is the operative sentence.

    great story, what? everything up in the air. stay tuned :>)

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