Likud MK Proposes That Israel Support Pollard for Life

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Jonathan Pollard during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, North Carolina, May 15, 1998.
Jonathan Pollard during an interview at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, North Carolina, May 15, 1998.Credit: AP

In anticipation of the release of spy Jonathan Pollard from his imprisonment in the United States in about a week and a half, Knesset House Committee Chairman MK David Bitan (Likud) has proposed a bill for the State of Israel to support him financially for the rest of his life.

Under the legislation, the state would grant Pollard a monthly pension, help pay his rent and finance any medical treatments he needs. The government would be authorized to determine the size of the allowance. Pollard has been in U.S. prison since 1985 for spying for Israel.

“After everything that Pollard has gone through, and in light of his contribution to Israel, the state must ensure that he will live in dignity,” Bitan said. Maintaining that the initiative should be a Knesset bill rather than a cabinet or security agency decision, he said, “The United States is our greatest friend, but on the matter of Pollard its decisions are not reasonable. It is certainly possible that there will be American pressure on Israel to freeze such a pension. In order to prevent foreign pressure we have to advance legislation, a step that will obligate the government to continue to transfer the money whatever happens.”

It is undecided whether Pollard’s release will be marked officially in the Knesset plenum or in some other ceremony. In recent months, under the guidance of the political leadership, the MKs who are members of the lobby for Pollard’s release have lowered their profiles and refrained from any public activity.

“We were asked to keep a low profile in order to avoid saying anything unnecessary prior to his release,” confirmed the chair of the lobby, MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who led the pro-Pollard activity in the previous Knesset along with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi). According to Shai, “After Pollard is released we’ll sit down and examine whether to continue helping him.”

In the years following his release, Pollard is expected to be subject to heavy restrictions. It is believed he will be forbidden to be interviewed in the media or surf the Internet, and it’s unclear whether he will be allowed to leave the United States. In the Knesset yesterday the feeling was that the parliamentary lobby for his release is likely to become a group that will help him manage under the conditions of his release. Quite a number of MKs are likely to stand by him if, for example, he needs security protection at government expense or support in applying pressure to enable him to leave the United States.

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