Report: Trump to Release Israeli Spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel to Aid Netanyahu's Re-election

Chris Menahan
Feb. 03, 2020

President Trump is allegedly set to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel in the coming weeks to aid Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's re-election campaign.

President Obama first released Pollard from prison in 2015 to soften the blow of the Iran nuclear deal but insisted he not be allowed to travel to Israel.

From Times of Israel, "Likud source: Jonathan Pollard will be brought to Israel before election":
After the unveiling of the Trump peace plan and the expected imminent release of Israeli-American backpacker Naama Issachar from Russian prison, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon pull another rabbit out of his hat, ahead of the Knesset elections: bringing Jonathan Pollard to Israel.

A source in Netanyahu’s Likud party has told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language sister site, that Netanyahu is aiming to have the former spy land on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport a week before the March 2 vote.

Pollard, who served 30 years in prison for providing sensitive intelligence to Israel, made a public appeal to Netanyahu in August and asked him to intervene on his behalf to urge US President Donald Trump to commute his parole, so he could care for his sick wife.
Netanyahu attempted to blackmail President Bill Clinton with racy Monica Lewinsky tapes to get Pollard released according to Daniel Halper's 2014 book, "Clinton Inc: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine."

From The Times of Israel, 23 July 2014, "Netanyahu said to have offered Lewinsky tapes for Pollard," subheadline, "New critical book on the Clinton family claims that Israel tapped White House phones, blackmailed president with recordings of intern":
Israel attempted to use tapes of former US president Bill Clinton's steamy conversations with intern Monica Lewinsky to leverage the release of Jonathan Pollard, a new book on the Clinton family's political enterprises has claimed. In the book, titled "Clinton Inc: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine," author Daniel Halper relies on on-the-record interviews with former officials together with a close analysis of documents termed "the Monica Files" to paint a salacious – and uncomplimentary – picture of one of the most prominent political families in the United States.

Halper reviewed hundreds of pages of documents compiled as a contingency to use in case the former intern ever was involved in legal action against Clinton.

According to the author, the documents indicate that during the Wye Plantation talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, held in Maryland in 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pulled Bill Clinton aside to press for Pollard's release.

Halper said that Israel had found new leverage to push for Pollard's release.

"The Israelis present at Wye River had a new tactic for their negotiations–they'd overheard Clinton and Monica and had it on tape. Not wanting to directly threaten the powerful American president, a crucial Israeli ally, Clinton was told that the Israeli government had thrown the tapes away. But the very mention of them was enough to constitute a form of blackmail," Halper wrote, adding that "according to information provided by a CIA source, a stricken Clinton appeared to buckle."

Halper noted that "intelligence officials in the United States or Israel will of course not confirm on the record the extent or substance of Israeli eavesdropping," but also cited an article published in 2000 by the magazine Insight, that claimed that Israel had "penetrated four White House telephone lines and was able to relay real-time conversations on those lines from a remote site outside the White House directly to Israel for listening and recording."

Israel has denied such claims in the past as "outrageous."

Pollard, a former US naval analyst, was found guilty of passing sensitive documents to Israel, and sentenced to a life sentence in prison for the offense. He remains a cause celebre in Israel, and there have been repeated efforts throughout the past twenty years to secure his release.
Halper cites seemingly corroborating information, including a contemporary New York Times article from November 1998 which reported that the two leaders had discussed Pollard's release during the ill-fated conference and that "the Israelis had told the president something that opened up the possibility of Pollard's release, something Clinton had explicitly ruled out during the first six years of his presidency." The Times article noted that a White House spokesman told a reporter that Clinton was simply "newly impressed by the force of Mr. Netanyahu's arguments."

[...] Netanyahu's threat, according to Halper, spurred Clinton to consider action. Halper claims that Clinton brought the request before CIA director George Tenet. Tenet, however, threatened to resign his position if Pollard was released, and Clinton backpedalled on the idea.

Halper is not the first to claim that Israel illicitly taped the steamy conversations between Clinton and Lewinsky and tried to leverage it to its advantage. In 1999, UK author Gordon Thomas claimed that the Mossad had collected some 30 hours' worth of phone sex conversations between Lewinsky and Clinton and was using them to blackmail the US or to protect a deeply-embedded mole in the White House.
Does Netanyahu have blackmail on Trump?

It was revealed by Politico in September that Israel was allegedly caught spying on the White House with expensive, high tech Stingray devices.

In order to help Israel, President Trump:
- Pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal
- Appointed Nikki Haley to fight for Israel at the UN
- Pushed forward with a bill to give Israel $38 billion from US taxpayers
- Put maximum sanctions on Iran
- Endorsed the expansion of settlements
- Moved the US embassy to Jerusalem
- Cut all US aid to the Palestinians
- Backed Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights
- Outlawed criticism of Israel on college campuses by executive order
- Gave speeches commanding Americans to "love Israel"
- Assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani
- Released a massively one-sided "Peace Deal" to rubber-stamp annexation of most of the West Bank and the entirety of Jerusalem
These moves prompted Ann Coulter to exclaim in January that she wishes Trump would "do something for the people who voted for him" considering all he's done for Israel and his pro-Israel top donor, multibillionaire Sheldon Adelson.

It's a rather stark contrast from what Trump ran on in 2015 and 2016.

What changed?

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