Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sent a personal letter to President Obama requesting clemency for convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard who is currently serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for spying.
For the Israeli Prime Minister to personally write to the President of the United States an open letter on behalf of an individual in this way is not a decision that Netanyahu would have made without knowing for sure what the outcome is likely to be and, more importantly, what the consequences are going to be. For Obama to now refuse such a request from the leader of its closest ally in the Middle East would be a massive diplomatic slap in the face to Netanyahu.
Netanyahu ends his letter to Obama by telling him that ‘the people of Israel will be eternally grateful’. One needs to ask: How grateful will Israel be? Will, say, a three month settlement freeze be gratitude enough?
Certainly, some consideration to a way of showing gratitude has been mused over. Why else would the Knesset take a vote on approving the letter and, even more intriguingly, why would 25 members not approve it (against 43 that did with one abstention). One would have thought that a letter pleading for Pollard’s release would receive unanimous approval from his fellow Israelis. What possible reason would 25 members have for not approving such a request? Could it be that they know that the price of showing ‘gratitude’ will be another freeze which they are dead set against?
Time will tell.