The Jonathan Pollard Trial Balloon

(Politico) Edward-Isaac Dovere - There are reports that President Obama might try to jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations via some kind of clemency for Jonathan Pollard, the former Navy analyst who's been in jail since 1987 for spying for Israel. Experienced negotiators say the Pollard trial balloon itself might be the clearest sign yet that the peace process is essentially over once again. For Pollard's release to ever be used in negotiations, time's running out: he's expected to be released in November 2015 anyway. If this were the last stitch needed to sew up a final deal, that would be one thing. But as a ploy to keep negotiations going over a peace framework, those who've been part of prior talks aren't impressed. "It shows a certain weakness and desperation," said Aaron David Miller, a former State Department senior adviser on the region. "If, after 30 years, we think that Pollard should be released for humanitarian reasons, then we should release him now. We should not make his release part of complicated negotiations with Palestinians and Israelis over some talks that may not last more than a few weeks anyway," said Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser overseeing the Middle East for President George W. Bush. "We are asking Israel to release terrorists. We should not be doing that," Abrams said. "Terrorists that kill Americans don't get released. And we should not be asking Israel to."

2014-04-02 00:00:00

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