Inside the Middle East
September 21, 2010
Posted: 2017 GMT


Israeli youth demonstrator holds a picture of Jonathan Pollard (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty)

Monday Israeli Army Radio aired a story that has created a minor stir in Jerusalem political circles.  

The report said  the Israeli  government had floated an informal proposal to the Obama administration offering an Israeli extension of  the West Bank settlement building freeze  in exchange for a U.S. release of Jonathan Pollard,  the former American intelligence analyst sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for the Jewish State.  

The story indicated that proponents of such a deal believe it would give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing coalition members the political cover they need to support a continuation of the settlement freeze – an issue that could derail the nascent direct talks between Israeli and Palestinians as soon as this Sunday when the freeze is set to expire.  

In a media briefing Monday Israel's Deputy Prime Minister and inner cabinet member, Dan Meridor, was coy when asked about the matter telling reporters "I don't want to touch on sensitive issues".

Another senior Israeli government official told CNN that "we routinely raise the issue with the Americans" and that bringing up the issue since the September 2nd start of direct talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians "would not be out of the ordinary" though the source would not say if a linkage between a Pollard release and an extension of the settlement freeze had been articulated recently.  

The case, one that is often raised by the Israeli government, is one of several possibilities raised by the Israelis as an issue they want resolved, several American officials told CNN.

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Filed under: General •Israel •Palestinians •U.S.

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