Israeli army radio says U.S. offering to release prisoner Pollard to save peace talks
Israel's army radio reported that U.S officials offered to release Pollard in exchange for assurance that Israel releases the fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners by the end of the month as agreed when peace talks commenced last July.
The peace talks are scheduled to end April 29, but Israel has called for an extension for the talks. The Palestinian delegation, however, has refused to extend the talks unless the prisoners are freed as scheduled. Earlier this month, however, Israeli officials hinted that they would not release the prisoners unless Palestinians agree to extend the talks and thus backtracking on their original agreement. The standstill has thus thrown the future of the negotiations into jeopardy.
Israel has so far released 78 out of the 104 prisoners set for release.
Washington has been at the forefront of efforts to broker an agreement that would satisfy both sides, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry interrupting his European tour to meet with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman Wednesday.
However, Washington has denied discussion of Pollard, with U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki saying that "there are currently no plans to release Pollard."
Pollard is a former U.S. Navy analyst who was arrested and jailed for life in 1985 for providing Israel with thousands of secret documents of U.S. spy activities in the Middle East.