Israel Minister of Infrastructure Ariel Sharon charged at the Cabinet meeting today (April 5) that Israel has mismanaged the Pollard Affair from the start and that the time has come for Israel to take full responsibility for Pollard’s actions as an agent for Israel. Sharon was prompted to make these remarks after a draft of a letter to President Clinton to be signed by the government and opposition and Knesset was read.The letter lacks any acknowledgement on the part of Israel for its role in the affair and does not take responsibilty for Pollard or for the operation. The draft included the particularly damaging statement that “We do not have any claims as regards the legal measures taken against him [Pollard], in light of the serious actions for which he was convicted, and for which Jonathan Pollard has expressed his deep sorrow and repentance.”

In a letter and follow-up memo written to Cabinet Secretary Dani Naveh, Jonathan Pollard explains why the exclusion of any sign of Israel taking responsibilty for him as an agent and for his operation would make the letter appear to the Americans as a cheap publicity stunt for domestic Israeli consumption. Such a letter, Pollard warns, would worsen rather than help Pollard’s situation.

The following is the complete text of the memo:

Urgent Memo – April 5, 1998
To: Dani Naveh
From: Jonathan Pollard

Dear Mr. Naveh

It is urgent that you call an immediate halt to the letter to Mr. Clinton, until the text is substantially corrected. The text of the letter as it stands now will do more harm than good.

It is more important that the text of the letter be constructive and be signed only by the Prime Minister and Mr. Barak than it is that the whole world sign it.

To that end, I would prefer that only the two leaders sign a text similar to the one I just sent you in my last letter than to have everyone sign a text that hands the Americans the opportunity to keep me here and bury me alive for a long time to come – which is exactly what the current text does.

The critical element missing from the letter is Israel’s acknowledging responsibility for me and for the operation.

There has been a lot of publicity in America around the Bagatz and around Israel’s offer to recognize me in a backhanded and disingenuous way. All our Washington sources tell me that the Administration is waiting for a definitive sign from the government of Israel to see if the Government is indeed serious this time. The sign that they are waiting for is for Israel to unequivocally acknowledge me as its agent and to admit that this was a sanctioned operation. Unless and until such elements appear in the letter, then it is preferable that no letter be written.

What is also critical is for Israel to repeat in this letter that I have expressed my unqualified remorse on numerous occasions, and to repeat that Israel has apologized for the operation in the past and now does so again, while assuring the United States that steps have been taken so that there will never again be a reoccurrence. Moreover, the letter should state that “Mr. Pollard does not pose a security threat to the United States, and that the State of Israel would see to it that any conditions imposed upon the release of Mr. Pollard would be honored to the letter.”

I am relieved that Yuli Edelstein was able to help you understand how damaging the current letter is not only because of the critical element that is lacking but also because it justifies the Draconian punishment I received and paints me black in order to keep Israel white. Evidence of Israel’s involvement in the operation up to the highest levels of the government is overwhelming so these kinds of statements just anger the Americans because Israel is still trying to play them for fools. This just makes them more determined to keep me here to spite Israel.

If Israel is sincere about bringing me home, the sine qua non of my liberation is Israel’s unequivocal acknowledgment of me as her agent.

Especially at this late date, and after all the publicity, the United States will not take seriously any request that omits this admission.

As per my last letter to you, I repeat, that once Israel makes the request in these terms, the United State would finally be in the position to accede to Israel’s request.

Yours Truly

Jonathan Pollard

P.S. For your convenience, here is a reprise of the text suggested in my previous letter. The elements suggested above regarding remorse, Israel’s apology repeated, and Israel’s guarantees for my conduct can be added to this basic text.

Allow me to suggest a formulation along the following lines:

Mr. President,

Jonathan Pollard, who served the State of Israel as an agent in a sanctioned operation, has now served more than twice as long in prison as any agent in the history of the United States for a similar offense. He is an Israeli citizen, and the Government of Israel accepts full responsibility for him. The government and the People of Israel would deeply appreciate your granting clemency to Mr. Pollard at this time, so that he may be returned to Israel in a humanitarian gesture for Israel’s 50th anniversary. The Government and the People of Israel look forward to greeting Vice President Al Gore at the Israeli Independence Day Celebrations. It would be an important confidence-building gesture if Mr. Pollard were to be returned home in time for Independence Day.