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>Israel Faxx
>JN Dec. 12. 1997, Vol. 5, No. 227

Knesset Calls for Pollard's Release

By IINS News Service

After serving 12 years in US maximum-security facilities for spying for Israel, Jonathan Pollard has succeeded in unifying the Knesset, which made a public appeal for his release,.

Deputy Defence Minister Silvan Shalom said that too little had been done on Pollard's behalf over the past 12 years, and behind the scenes efforts to have him freed had not been successful. Now, Silvan stated, the time was right to speak openly and call for US Authorities to pardon Pollard.

Minister of Absorption Yuli Edelstein, who recently became the first minister ever to have visited Pollard, said he was hopeful that Pollard would join him in celebrating Israel's 50th anniversary.

Since Edelstein visited Pollard in his South Carolina prison cell, interest in his plight has been renewed. Next week, Communications Minister Limor Livnat is planning to visit him during her trip to the US.

A former US Navy analyst, Pollard, 43, is serving a life sentence for passing US military secrets to Israel. Israeli leaders over the years have denied he was a sanctioned agent.

President Bill Clinton rejected a clemency plea by Pollard in 1996, citing the enormity of his crime, his lack of remorse and the damage he caused to US security. Pollard's supporters have retorted that he gave Israel critical information the US should not have been withholding from an ally, and have pointed to other men convicted in the US for spying for enemy nations, who have received considerably lighter sentences.

Israel Plans to Give PA 10-13 Percent of Land

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Senior ministers met again Thursday to try to finalize Israel's position for the next -- and final -- round of talks with the Palestinians, a decision which will help determine how much Israel offers in its next West Bank withdrawal. That there are indications Israel will offer more land than had been expected.

Israeli news reports say the ministers have agreed to hand over at least 10 percent more of the West Bank to Palestinian control, and perhaps as much as 13 percent. Israel's Defense Ministry denied the 13 percent figure, but there was no denial of idea of more than 10 percent. That is somewhat more than the 6-8 percent Israel was said to be offering a week ago -- an amount Palestinian officials rejected and US officials apparently also thought was not sufficient.

Still, there are other elements which could prevent the re-starting of the peace process US mediators are trying to arrange, including conditions Israel is placing on the next withdrawal. Israel says it will make only one troop movement before the next round of talks ends, instead of the three which have been promised. And Israel says the troops will not move until the middle of next year, by which time it wants the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terror groups, extradite prisoners, and remove the PLO Charter's call for Israel's destruction. Those would likely prove to be difficult conditions to satisfy.

For the moment, Israel faces an informal deadline of next Wednesday, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Brussels. Albright has urged a quick decision on a "credible" withdrawal. Israeli officials say they will not be rushed into fateful decisions, and that Netanyahu might not have a final plan ready when he meets with Albright. But Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, the most liberal of the senior ministers drawing up the plan, says that would be a mistake.

Levy told Israel Radio the government should not send Netanyahu to next week's meeting with his hands tied because that would be gambling dangerously with the future of Israel and risking its friendship with the United States. The Cabinet is to discuss the long and short-term plans the ministers are developing at its regular meeting Sunday. But officials say more than one meeting might be necessary to deal with the far-reaching program.

Meanwhile, Israel is on a special security alert because Thursday was the 29th anniversary of the founding of the militant "Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine." The group, which rejects the peace process, likes to carry out attacks on its anniversary. Last year, it claimed responsibility for the drive-by killing of an Israeli woman and her son on the West Bank. In addition, Sunday will be the anniversary of the founding of the militant group "Hamas," which has carried out many bombings against Israeli targets in recent years. And this week Palestinians marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the "intifada," the uprising which many credit with helping to force Israel into the peace process.

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