Report: U.S. May Release Pollard to Keep Peace Talks Afloat

Washington said to be desperate to avoid cancellation of final prisoner release, scheduled for the end of March.

Officials in Washington are considering the release of jailed Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a means of keeping the deadlocked peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians alive, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

Pollard's release is just one idea being explored in Washington and there's no certainty that it would be adopted by President Barack Obama, the radio noted.

Washington is desperate to ensure that Israel releases a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners at the end of March, as scheduled. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under pressure from his ministers to cancel that release, due to the impasse in the negotiations. The Palestinians have stated that all talks will cease if the release does not go ahead.

The radio quoted Israeli diplomats as saying that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected a request by Obama that he consider a delay in the release during their meeting in Washington last week.

The talks, which began last summer, are due to conclude at the beginning of April with a mutually-agreed framework for continued negotiations. However, there has been no progress in several weeks, with both Israel and the Palestinians refusing to budge from their core positions.