The US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, denied on Sunday any connection between the fate of Jonathan Pollard, a convicted spy for Israel, and the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, including the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Last week, Israeli media reported that after the US surveillance of Israeli leaders had been made public, Netanyahu was considering the possibility of asking the US to release Pollard as part of the negotiation efforts with the Palestinians. Channel 10 News also aired a report claiming that Kerry subsequently offered to arrange the release if Israel consented to free Israeli Arab prisoners in the fourth and final phase of the prisoner release.
Pollard is an American citizen who was convicted in 1987 of passing classified information to Israel and sentenced to life in prison. However since he is eligible for parole, he may be released as early as November 2015.
Speaking to Israeli Army Radio, Shapiro denied all information related to the issue. He insisted that the Palestinian prisoners are only to be released based on negotiations with the Israelis, whereas Pollard’s detention is an internal American issue.
Previously, the White House had denied offering any proposal that the US release Pollard in return for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners holding Israeli citizenship.
Under the current agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, the third group of Palestinian prisoners is being released this week.