Jerusalem – Quite a few people in Jerusalem were puzzled last week to hear that President George W. Bush had invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to come to see him at the White House.

While formally the two men are scheduled to meet in order to discuss progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, Israeli government officials in Jerusalem are telling the local media that the meeting in question is geared to coordinate the release of the Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard, from prison. These Israeli officials said that the outgoing president customarily grants pardons on his last day in office, and it was quite possible that Mr. Pollard’s name might be included on that list, at long last.

Israel tried to secure Mr. Pollard’s release in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, but met with no success.

If Mr. Bush decides to grant clemency to Mr. Pollard, this could contribute to the legacy that Mr. Olmert will be leaving in his wake.

A decision on Mr. Bush’s part to release Mr. Pollard could lay the groundwork for new relations between the next elected leaders who are going to head the United States and Israel.

Mr. Pollard, now 53, has been in prison in the United States for the past 22 years after he was convicted of spying for Israel.

No American president to date has agreed to commute his sentence. Since Mr. Olmert has himself hinted he intends to devote his last months in office to the goal of advancing further concessions to the Palestinian Liberation Organization in the hope of achieving some kind of peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, it could be that the Pollard story will serve as an appropriate distraction for the Israeli public and not on sensitive negotiations with Israel’s Arab neighbors.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.