Alan Dershowitz: Releasing Pollard Would Not Hurt America

Tuesday, 01 Apr 2014 08:25 PM

By Lisa Barron

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The U.S. government's release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is justified, says prominent attorney Alan Dershowitz.

"You have to remember that he made a plea bargain, and in exchange for giving up his right to trial [by] jury, he agreed to plead guilty in exchange for the government making a solemn promise that they would not seek life imprisonment … The judge, however, gave him life imprisonment and so the position of the United States government back then — and it should be the same position now — is that life imprisonment was not warranted considering the amount of damage that was done by this spy," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman, J.D. Hayworth, and Morgan Thompson on "America's Forum" Tuesday.

The former U.S. Navy analyst was convicted of spying for Israel in the 1980s and has spent 25 years in an American jail.

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Israel and the United States are reportedly close to a deal on his release that would include freeing some 400 Palestinian prisoners.

"He's only a year away from his next parole date where he'll probably be released, so the United States is not being asked to give up very much. Israel, on the other hand, is being asked to release hundreds and hundreds of terrorists who might go back to commit new crimes. Pollard's an old man. He's not going to do anything to hurt America."

Dershowitz, however, is cautious about the Israeli end of the proposed deal as it stands. "It's not worth it, and if I were the Israeli government I would not release 400 people in exchange for Jonathan Pollard. I might think about releasing 400 people in exchange for real peace," he said.

"And let's remember what [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas is saying. He's saying that it's Israel that's not keeping its word. Palestinians have had a chance to have a two-state solution since 1938, 1948, 1967, 2001, 2007. They've never been able to take yes for an answer.

"They always find an excuse for turning down the two-state solution and they're finding an excuse now. It's nonsense. Netanyahu is trying desperately to continue the negotiations to lead towards peace. He wants a two-state solution. The question is, does Abbas?"

Dershowitz, who spent most of his career at Harvard Law School, is the author of several books about politics and law, including "The Case for Peace: How the Arab–Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved."

He argued that it is difficult to trust the Palestinians in deals such as this. "They will break their word and they have broken their word and Israel isn't going to trust them. If they make peace, they're going to make peace on the ground with security. They're not going to give up their security," Dershowitz said.

"We saw what happened with Gaza. Israel gave back Gaza unilaterally and Gaza is now being used as a launching pad for rockets. There's no effort to make peace, and the Gazans still claim they're under occupation even though no Israeli soldier has set foot in that land for years now."

Still, Dershowitz said it is worth releasing Pollard now if it means reaching a concrete peace deal. "Both sides, particularly the United States, but everybody would really like to see a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. It would serve the interests of everybody, it would help create a united front against Iran, which is the great enemy in that area, it would help in the process of controlling Syria, which poses problems to all sides, and it would be good for world peace."

As for whether releasing Pollard would set a precedent for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and others like him, Dershowitz said, "I don't think Snowden would get a 30-year sentence. I suspect Snowden would get 15 or 20 years or something like that.

"And Snowden, of course, stole enormous amounts, far more valuable material, and gave them to our enemies, whereas Pollard only gave material, or a very limited amount of it, to an ally that shares national security information with the United States on all kinds of things."

"[Pollard] should have been convicted. He was guilty. But the proportionality is such that he has more than served his sentence. He served more than any spy in the history of the country for spying for an ally," Dershowitz said.

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