Despite repeated announcements by Binyamin Netanyahu that the freeze will end in six days as planned, a new scenario has arisen: the release of Jonathan Pollard in exchange for an extension of the construction freeze.
According to the deal being talked about in Yerushalayim, the freeze would be extended for three months, while Pollard would be freed just a few weeks shy of his 25th anniversary in prison.
The idea was not initiated in Washington, but rather by staffers in Netanyahu’s office. Army Radio reported Monday morning that Netanyahu asked an unnamed person who specializes in the Middle East conflict to find out if the Obama Administration would be interested in the idea. The person in fact made queries, but it is not known what, if any, response he received.
The Prime Minister’s Bureau has denied the report, issuing this statement: “We know of no query to the Americans on this matter. The Prime Minister has not changed his mind, and the freeze will end on Sept. 26.”
Pollard’s wife Esther has not commented on the report. It is known that the Pollards objected to the Pollard-Barghouti exchange that was floated several years ago, though the deal could be carried out without their consent.
Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, said, “The very idea is an ugly form of blackmail. Should we also agree to give up the Golan Heights in exchange for Gilad Shalit?”
The last time Netanyahu reached an understanding regarding Pollard with an American president was with Bill Clinton – a Democrat, like Obama – in late 1998 during the Wye Plantation talks. Netanyahu agreed to release 500 PA terrorists from prison in exchange for Pollard’s release, in the framework of the Wye agreement in which Israel agreed to withdraw from over 13% of Judea and Samaria. However, at the last minute, Clinton reneged regarding Pollard – though Israel still released the terrorists.
Read more at Arutz Shevah.