Jerusalem (Associated Press)-Jonathan Pollard has been serving 30 years in a US prison for spying in Israel. He and his wife arrived in Israel early Wednesday. The relationship between the two close allies is strained.
When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted him at the Israeli International Airport, Pollard said: “In 35 years we are finally going home.” The Israeli leader happily told Pollard and his wife Esther They were presented with Israeli identity cards, which enabled them to obtain nationality.
Netanyahu said: “You are at home,”
Pollard arrived in a private jet provided by the billionaire supporter of Netanyahu and Donald Trump, American casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.
66-year-old Pollard and his wife walked slowly down the steps as they left the plane. Pollard knelt and kissed the ground, his wife put his hand on his back, and Netanyahu stood by in the dark. Esther Pollard (Esther Pollard), who was battling cancer, kissed and got help from her husband.
Pollard thanked Netanyahu and the Jewish people for their support. He said: “We hope to become productive citizens as soon as possible and live our lives here.”
US Navy civilian intelligence analyst Pollard sold military secrets to Israel while working at the Pentagon in the 1980s. In 1985, he was arrested after failing to seek asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and pleaded guilty. The espionage embarrassed Israel and disrupted relations with the United States for many years.
Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment, and US defense and intelligence officials have always opposed his release. But after serving 30 years in federal prison, he was released on November 20, 2015, and was released on parole for five years until November. This paved the way for him to leave the United States.
The arrival of Pollard was first reported by Israel Hayom, a newspaper owned by Adelson. Newspapers published photos of Pollard and his wife wearing masks. The photos said it was a private jet that arrived from Newark, New Jersey on Wednesday. It said that due to Esther Pollard’s medical needs, private flights were necessary. The newspaper’s editor Boaz Bismuth called it the “most exciting day” of his four decades of journalism.
The photo of the plane with Pollard matches the color scheme of the plane owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp. (Adelson’s hotel and casino company). The flight tracking data showed that the Boeing 737 owned by the company, with the tail number N108MS, flew from Newark to Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.
Effi Lahav, the head of the militant group that sought Pollard’s release from prison, said Pollard had spent the night on a “secret secret” mission. He told Army Radio: “The fact that Esther and Jonathan arrived in Israel made us very excited.”
The Ynet website stated that the couple are in isolation, which is a mandatory measure for all returning Israelis to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The country bans all visitors, but seems to welcome the couple as Israelis.
Pollard’s release is the latest in a string of diplomatic gifts from President Donald Trump to Netanyahu. His arrival in Israel made the troubled Netanyahu fight for re-election in the parliamentary elections held on March 23.
Netanyahu has always been one of Trump’s closest allies on the international stage. In the past four years, Trump recognized the disputed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy to the Holy City. Different from the traditional position of the United States, Trump also recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and said that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not illegal, and facilitated a series of diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab countries.