What should Israel give up in exchange for Pollard, its master spy in US Naval intelligence? The US supposedly has no spies in Israel, so the obvious exchange would be Pollard for Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving a life sentence in Israel and is a hero to Palestinians.
The recent Russian-American spy exchange was easy, but it was also relatively unimportant; it merely served to maintain friendly relations between the two countries. A free Marwan Barghouti, on the other hand, would be an ideal personality to bring the Palestinians together.
This is not a facetious suggestion. Barghouti has been used by Israel before–while in jail–to negotiate the eighteen point agreement between Fatah and Hamas to jointly govern the West Bank and Gaza.
Israelis often complain that there is no ‘partner’ on the Palestinian side. A Pollard-Barghouti exchange would provide one. This is exactly what the Mitchell/Obama proximity talks need.
Bibi Netanyahu raised a ruckus at the Wye River negotiations in 1997 when he demanded the release of Pollard as the final price for agreeing to sign a partial withdrawal agreement. He held out for two hours the morning the agreement was to be signed in the East room of the White House. President Clinton initially agreed to release Pollard, but the CIA director said that he would resign if this happened.
We know Prime Minister Sharon also asked for the release of Pollard, who would be a hero in Israel, but US Naval Intelligence is deeply angered by Pollard’s spying and copying of highly classified documents, which led to his conviction twenty years ago.
So why not exchange an aging Pollard for a new and vigorous leader of Palestine who would carry weight with the Palestinian public and be able to create a real negotiating ‘partner’ for Israel in the proximity talks?