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Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Weekly Commentary: Window of Opportunity For Pollard-Freeze Extension

Weekly Commentary: Window of Opportunity For Pollard-Freeze Extension

Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 29 September 2010

Let's make this clear from the outset:

Israel's interests are best served if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
remains steadfast in his decision to allow the settlement construction
freeze to end at this time.

Israel faces genuine risks and costs if it extends the freeze by another
three months, as requested by Mahmoud Abbas, in order to continue the direct
negotiations.

But when these risks and costs are weighed against the importance that we,
as a nation, fulfill our obligation to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard,
who has languished in an American prison for a quarter of a century , the
scales tip in favor of gaining the release of Pollard.

There is an Israeli consensus that this equation holds for the three month
extension. The same is not the case for other possible deals. There are
ministers, for example, who would vote against releasing murderer Marwan
Barghouti in exchange for Pollard. Ministers would also object to a
permanent settlement freeze in exchange for Jonathan Pollard.

So where are we today?

The Obama team blew it.

They thought that if pressure didn't convince Netanyahu to extend the freeze
then the solution is applying more pressure. At the same time Washington is
unwittingly setting up Mahmoud Abbas to be the subject of ridicule in the
Palestinian street if he continues the talks. This even if a way is found
to convince the Arab League to recommend such a move.

There is only one simple solution.

The "Pollard solution" to this dilemma is public knowledge around the world.

In point of fact, Google News has more stories about a possible
Pollard-freeze extension deal in Arabic than in Hebrew!

The White House and State Department can go on and on about how they are
doing everything in their power to resolve the issue. But everyone knows
that Mr. Obama can still gain the three month freeze extension Mahmoud Abbas
has asked for if he offers Mr. Netanyahu the release of Jonathan Pollard in
exchange.

Again, it isn't that this is even necessarily Mr. Netanyahu's preference.

But he would simply be unable to refuse.

That's because Binyamin Netanyahu consistently justifies his decisions on
such matters to the Americans by citing coalition problems. And both he and
the Americans know that a Pollard-extension deal would be accepted by
Netanyahu's entire cabinet.

Can President Obama resolve this crises before the Arab League may pull the
plug when Mahmoud Abbas consults with them in Cairo?

Yes he can.

Not by applying yet more pressure on Israel or by cajoling the Arabs. But
by doing the very one thing that can get everyone down the tree limb: offer
to free Jonathan Pollard.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730
INTERNET ADDRESS: imra@netvision.net.il
Website: http://www.imra.org.il

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