U.S. Denies Plans to Free Pollard for Peace

Army Radio had reported U.S. thoughts of freeing the Israeli spy if timetable for peace talks extended, more prisoners released.

Pollard protest
Demonstrators holding placards of Jonathan Pollard during an Israeli protest for his release. Reuters

Washington denied an Israeli radio report Wednesday that the Obama administration was planning to free Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for spying on the United States for Israel, as a way of revving up stalled peace talks.

"There are currently no plans to release Pollard," said a statement issued by the U.S. National Security Council and the U.S. State Department.

Army Radio reported Wednesday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his staff proposed that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would commit to extending talks until the end of the year and Israel would release 26 more prisoners, including 20 Israeli Arabs. Israel Radio reported a similar plan earlier in the week.

According to the Army Radio report, the United States would release Pollard after Israel's release of the fourth and final batch of 104 security prisoners.

It's not clear that the Palestinians would agree to extend talks past April 29, when they are scheduled to end, even if Israel does release the final batch of prisoners Abbas wants freed.

Abbas has said Kerry promised him when negotiations began in July that Israeli Arab prisoners would be among those released. Israel says it did not pledge to release Israeli citizens in addition to Palestinians.

Abbas has said peace talks would be extended only if Israel halts settlement construction and releases more than the 104 prisoners Israel said it would free if peace talks progress.