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Report: Rice quashed Pollard release proposal

Condoleezza Rice reportedly quashed an Israeli proposal in 2005 for Jonathan Pollard to be freed in exchange for a jailed Palestinian militia leader.

On the eve of the Gaza withdrawal, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon put together a plan whereby Israel would free Marwan Barghouti, a Fatah leader jailed for terrorist attacks but perceived as a potential counterweight to the ascendancy of Hamas, if the United States would in turn release Pollard, Ma’ariv reported Sunday.

According to the newspaper, Israel’s ambassador to Washington at the time, Danny Ayalon, broached the top-secret proposal to the U.S. secretary of state but she rejected it outright.

“Pollard’s release is out of the question,” Ma’ariv quoted her as telling Ayalon. “Danny, I’d advise you not to pursue this any further. Pollard betrayed his country and that issue is taboo in Washington.”

U.S. officials had no immediate comment on the report, which appeared consistent with the stated position of successive administrations in Washington that Pollard, a former Navy analyst who passed reams of classified information to Israel, should serve out his life prison sentence.

Israeli political sources confirmed that the Sharon government did indeed put together a prisoner-swap proposal at the time.

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