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Eitan sees ‘chance’ for Pollard pardon

There is a “chance” that President Bush could pardon Jonathan Pollard, an Israeli Cabinet minister said.

Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, who as a spymaster in the 1980s recruited Pollard, was asked in an interview Thursday whether he thinks the former U.S. Navy analyst could receive an early release from the prison where he is serving a life sentence.

“I hope that President Bush will pardon Pollard,” Eitan told Israel Radio.

Pollard has accused Eitan, who is persona non grata in the United States, of abandoning him in the field and was incensed to learn that the minister would be joining Bush for a ceremonial dinner in Jerusalem.

Asked about the fact that successive U.S. administrations ruled out clemency for Pollard, Eitan said he senses a difference in Bush, who finishes his term in January 2009 and is keen to bolster Israel as its seeks peace with the Palestinians.

“The circumstances have now changed, the circumstances have changed. There is a chance,” Eitan said, referring to a pardon.

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