Tel Aviv-A former U.S. Navy analyst who has been in jail for 30 years for Israel’s espionage activities arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to welcome him under the prayers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and kiss the ground.
66-year-old Jonathan Pollard, as a civilian intelligence analyst, sold military secrets to Israel in the 1980s. In 1985, he was arrested after failing to seek asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and pleaded guilty.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987, but was released on parole in 2015.
Espionage involving Pollard has become a decades-long sticking point between the United States and its ally Israel, but some believe that the US Department of Justice decided last month not to extend Pollard’s parole clause to prohibit his five-year travel ban. President Donald Trump’s parting gift to Netanyahu. The Israeli leader may give him a welcome boost when he fights for re-election in next year’s parliamentary elections.
The prime minister’s office said that on Wednesday, Netanyahu met Pollard and his wife Esther on the tarmac. They were on the tarmac.
The couple kissed the ground as they left the plane.
Netanyahu’s office quoted Pollard as saying: “In 35 years we are finally going home.”
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Netanyahu presented Pollard with an Israeli ID after his Thanksgiving prayers in Hebrew and told him and his wife: “Now, you can start again freely and happily Life. Now you are at home,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
The statement said: “We hope to become productive citizens as soon as possible and live our lives here.”
After Pollard arrived, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin (Reuven Rivlin) and several lawmakers expressed congratulations and greetings to Pollard on Twitter. Pollard departed from the airport to an unknown location.
Effi Lahav, the head of the militant group fighting for Pollard’s release, told the Associated Press that Pollard’s arrival is (kept) secret because we realize it’s best to treat his arrival with caution.
Rahaf said: “We ignore and defeat anyone, and of course we won’t… America.”
He called Pollard’s arrival “very moving and very historic”, while his organization “has been waiting, hope, praying and acting for years.”
Paul Goldman is from Tel Aviv, and Yuliya Talmazan in London reports.
Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.