U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered to free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as part of the release of the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jail, Channel 10 reported on Friday.
- Gilad Shalit Calls for Pollard Release
- Israeli MKs: Let Pollard Go
- Arab MK Calls for Release of Pollard
- U.S.: Israel to Release Prisoners on Dec. 30
- Pollard Is Kerry's Bargaining Chip
Israel in expected to release in the upcoming days 26 long-time Palestinian prisoners - the third group out of four – as part of the resumed peace talks with the Palestinians. All of the prisoners, some of them Israeli Arabs, were put behind bars before the implementation of the 1993 Oslo Accords.
The report on Channel 10 added, however, that Jerusalem doubt that Pollard will be released since they believe that it did not receive the approval of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Israeli lawmakers renewed calls for the release of Pollard, following recent reports based on documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden that the United States spied on at least two sitting Israeli prime ministers.
Pollard, a former civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 on charges of spying on the U.S. for Israel. He is incarcerated at a federal jail in North Carolina.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce new housing tenders in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem next week, following the release of the third group of Palestinian prisoners.
According to an official in Jerusalem, Netanyahu did not heed the United States' request to postpone the announcement of the new tenders, and rejected warnings by the European Union on the matter.
The U.S. State Department said on Friday that Israel plans to release the next group of Palestinian prisoners on December 30.