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April 01, 2014

Obama And Kerry So Desperate For A Mideast Peace Deal They Are Floating Idea Of Releasing Convicted Spy Jonathan Pollard

To the shock of almost no one, the Obama/Kerry effort to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is rapidly reaching the supposed deadline with no chance of success.

But Israel balked at releasing the last batch of prisoners on Saturday. We are now approaching the end of a renewed set of talks that have steadily moved away from their stated goal. In July, the original plan was for an agreement to be reached by the end of April 2014. As time passed with little progress, much like the past 25 years, Kerry downgraded hopes from an actual deal to a "framework" deal - essentially making the latest round of talks about more talks. The original "framework" of course dates back to the Oslo accords, signed in 1993.

Even that limited ambition now appears unreachable. Israel refused to release the final 26 prisoners over the weekend, essentially in order to create a new bargaining chip. If Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas promises to extend the talks (about talks) another six months, Israeli says it will release 400 more Palestinian prisoners at some point in the future. The Palestinian team has said talks are over on April 29 if the originally agreed upon prisoner release doesn't happen.

The reason for the failure of this round of talks, like all the others, is simple... neither of the sides actually involved in them want a deal. The Palestinians are holding on to the idea that if they wait long enough the world will force Israel to cave to them on just about everything (which would also basically include the existence of Israel, so don't bet on it). The Israelis on the other hand were willing to cut a deal during the Clinton years and all they got for their willingness to deal with the Palestinians was another intifada and rocket attacks from Gaza.

So with neither side all that interesting in cutting a deal but another US administration desperate to make history and build a legacy, everything is on the table. Including the release of one of the most damaging spies in US history. But Kerry needs his own Nobel Prize and Obama wants to try and live up to the one he got just for showing up so...maybe Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard gets to walk.

No decisions have been made about Pollard's release, which sources familiar with the talks have cautioned is far from certain and would need to be approved by President Barack Obama. Pollard's possible release was being discussed as part of a broader agreement that has not been finalized.

In exchange for the release, the sources have said that Israel would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians, which could include a settlement freeze, the release of additional prisoners beyond the current group in dispute, and an agreement to continue peace negotiations beyond the end-of-April deadline.

Pollard was convicted in 1987 of spying for Israel and is serving a life sentence in the United States. His imprisonment has been a source of tension between the U.S. and Israel.

This is nothing but the floating of a naked bribe by the US for Netanyahu to stick around and pretend a few months or more of "talks" (they don't actually ever seem to talk, Kerry just sort of floats around the region a lot) will do the trick.

I wouldn't blame Netanyahu for playing along. Any Prime Minister of Israel has to be seen as trying to be a good partner to the US so why not take something that would be immensely popular back home in the process?

Of course this would just be another example of Obama selling out to advance his own interests.

I don't care who Pollard spied for, I care about who he spied on. He literally sold America out (he didn't act out of conviction, he was paid for his treachery (pdf)). I don't care that Israel was supposed to get the information anyway. No country is entitled to America's intelligence products and if the proper policy makers withheld that information, it was not up to Pollard, anymore than it was Edward Snowden or Bradley Manning, to decide otherwise.

My only disappointment is that Snowden likely will never be brought to justice and Manning only received 35 years. Pollard was sentenced to life in prison and that's where he should rot until the day he dies.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:05 AM

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