Israel to Vote on Life-long Stipend for Pollard, Despite Concerns of Harm to U.S. Ties

According to the proposal, Israel will pay Pollard a monthly pension to ensure he lives out the remainder of his life in dignity: 'We have a moral debt,' lawmaker says.

Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, newly released from a U.S. federal prison in North Carolina, leaves U.S. District court in the Manhattan borough of New York, November 20, 2015.
Reuters

Israel's ministers will decide whether to provide a lifetime annuity to Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard, despite concerns by the defense establishment that the move could have a detrimental effect on ties with the U.S.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation will vote Sunday on the bill, proposed by Likud lawmaker David Bitan, after numerous delays.

Paroled in November 2015 after serving a 30 year prison sentence in the United States, Pollard is prevented from leaving the U.S. by the terms of his parole.

According to the proposal, Israel will pay Pollard a monthly pension to ensure he lives out the remainder of his life in dignity, and will contribute to his housing and medical expenses.

MK Bitan said that "[Israel] has a moral debt to Pollard, especially in light of the fact he spent 30 years in jail without Israel succeeding in releasing him. Due to his age and lengthy prison term Pollard does not have the ability to support adequately himself without assistance from the Israeli government."

When the bill was first suggested in December 2015, Bitan insisted that the assistance to Pollard be enshrined in law, rather than be determined by a government decision.

"The U.S. is our greatest friend, but its decisions regarding Pollard were not reasonable," Bitan said at the time. "There could be American pressure on Israel to freeze the payment. In order to preempt such foreign pressure it is necessary to entrench the issue into law, which will oblige the government to transfer the money in any circumstance."

Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel in 1985. According to the conditions of his parole, he is prevented from leaving the U.S. for five years, a provision that will be revisited in another two years.

He wears an ankle bracelet that tracks his movements and is forbidden to talk to the media. He was initially also barred from accessing the Internet, but is now permitted to surf the web following a short legal battle.