Netanyahu phones Pollard: ‘When are we going to see you here? We’re waiting’

PM urges former spy and his wife to move to Israel, tells them ‘that this nightmare of yours is over,’ days after his parole ends

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday spoke by phone with Jonathan Pollard, telling the former US Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israel that the Jewish state is waiting for him to move here after his parole ended.

“When are we going to see you here? We’re waiting for you,” Netanyahu told Pollard, speaking in English.

Pollard’s reply, which caused Netanyahu to chuckle, could not be heard.

“You should feel comfortable and you should really feel at home,” the prime minister added.

Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu meets Esther Pollard, the wife of US-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, June 29, 2015 (Amos Ben Gershon/PMO, courtesy)

He also promised to make sure Pollard’s wife Esther gets the cancer treatment she needs.

“I really want to congratulate you that this nightmare of yours is over,” he told Esther, speaking in Hebrew.

“When you return to Israel, it will be a big moment for us.”

Pollard, 66, was a US Navy intelligence analyst in the mid-1980s when he made contact with an Israeli colonel in New York and began sending US secrets to Israel in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.

Pollard, who is Jewish, passed thousands of crucial US documents to Israel, straining relations between the two close allies.

He was arrested in 1985 and was sentenced to life in prison two years later, despite pleading guilty in a deal his attorneys expected would result in a more lenient sentence.

Convicted spy Jonathan Pollard and his wife, Esther, enter federal court in New York on April 7, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

He was eventually released in 2015, but was kept in the United States by parole rules and not allowed to travel to Israel where his wife, whom he married after he was jailed, lived.

He remained subject to a curfew, had to wear a wrist monitor, and was prohibited from working for any company that lacked US government monitoring software on its computer systems. In addition he was restricted from traveling abroad.

On Sunday, Pollard released photos taken on Friday of his wife cutting the electronic monitor bracelet off of his wrist as his five-year parole was terminated. He also issued a statement thanking Esther for standing by his side for three decades.

Jonathan Pollard with his wife Esther after they cut off his electronic monitor bracelet on November 20, 2020. (Adi Ginzburg/Justice for Jonathan Pollard)

His lawyer, Eliot Lauer, told The Times of Israel that the termination of his parole likely required a “wink and a nod” from the highest levels of the White House.

Pollard is now readying to move to Israel with his wife Esther, but the two are still working to determine how to do so safely while she is still undergoing rounds of chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer, according to the lawyer.

Pollard’s determination to move to Israel comes despite his previous accusations that Israel had not done enough to secure his release and his bitterness over the way Israel abandoned him when he was caught.

His capture and his subsequent treatment — by Israel, which threw him out of its Washington embassy and into the arms of waiting FBI agents, and by the United States, which agreed to a plea bargain and then sentenced him with uncommon severity — left him deeply embittered.

Israel’s October 1985 raid on the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Tunis headquarters that killed around 60 people was planned with information from Pollard, according to CIA documents declassified in 2012.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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