In an effort to ease increasing tensions between Israel and Palestine, the United States is considering releasing a spy that was arrested nearly 30 years ago.
Jonathan Pollard, 59, was arrested in 1985 and given a life sentence two years later for delivering classified information to Israeli intelligence. He obtained this information while working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy.
Ever since Pollard’s arrest, Israel has been pushing for his release. According to Newser, the country granted him citizenship in 1995, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nearly convinced President Bill Clinton to release the individual in 1998. Beginning November 2015, Pollard is eligible for parole.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Jerusalem this week in an attempt to resolve the problems prohibiting the two states from participating in peace talks that now have an April 29 deadline. According to the New York Times, there is currently a dispute regarding Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners.
Because Pollard may be free on parole within the next year, the U.S. views him as a key bargaining tool for dealing with Israel intelligence. Still, given the current state of individuals jailed for espionage by the United States, the release of Pollard would send a strange message to the international community.
“In an era of leaks and surveillance and Snowden, the idea that the administration is going to trade Jonathan Pollard makes absolutely no sense,” said Aaron David Miller, vice president at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Pollard's release would depend on a larger agreement between Israel and Palestine, and would require the approval of President Obama.