White House Says No Decision Made To Release Jonathan Pollard

Palestinians Move To Join U.N. Groups as Talks Fray

Lonely Path: John Kerry walks on an airport tarmac as he seeks to reach a deal to extend Mideast peace talks past an end of April deadline.
getty images
Lonely Path: John Kerry walks on an airport tarmac as he seeks to reach a deal to extend Mideast peace talks past an end of April deadline.

By Reuters

Published April 01, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

President Barack Obama has not made a decision to release convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Tuesday.

“Jonathan Pollard was convicted of espionage and he is serving his sentence,” Carney said.

“I don’t have any other update to provide you on Mr. Pollard’s status. There are obviously a lot of things happening in that arena and I am not going to get ahead of discussions that are under way,” he said.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas signed more than a dozen international conventions on Tuesday citing anger at Israel’s delay of a prisoner release, in a move jeopardised U.S. efforts to salvage fragile peace talks.

His unexpected decision came just a day before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had been due to travel to Ramallah for talks aimed at finalising a complex, three-way deal that would enable the talks to continue into 2015.

However, a U.S. official said that trip would not now go ahead.

Abbas had pledged not seek to join world bodies during the U.S.-brokered negotiations, that are scheduled to run until the end of April and that have made little apparent headway.

Israel had promised in exchange to free more than 100 prisoners by the end of March, but failed to release the final batch, saying it wanted guarantees that the Palestinians would extend the negotiations beyond the April 29 deadline.

In his remarks to Palestinian leaders in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Abbas made clear he was not abandoning the negotiations, but blasted Israel’s delay in freeing prisoners.

“We are not doing this against America, but we still don’t see other ways forward,” Abbas said, before signing a packet of papers Palestinian officials said included 15 conventions of international and U.N. groups.

Precise details of what he had signed were not given.

“We don’t see any reason not to go and sign these agreements, with the knowledge that we are on the path to reaching an agreement through talks and through peaceful popular resistance,” Abbas said.

A Palestinian official insisted that Abbas was not abandoning negotiations with Israel.

“He have told the Israelis to stop playing their games,” the official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity. He added that Abbas had been “very disappointed” that all the prisoners had not been released.

The issue of Palestinians jailed by Israel is an emotive one in Palestinian society, and freedom for the inmates helps boost Palestinian support for Abbas’s peace seeking efforts against popular Islamist groups opposed to reconciling with Israel.

For Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the prisoner release is a difficult step politically, with far-right coalition partners angry at setting free inmates convicted of commiting lethal attacks.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.