Reports of Jonathan Pollard being released are an independent issue – not another ploy from the Obama administration to rally support for the Iran nuclear deal from a reluctant Israel, Education Minister Naftali Bennett insisted Monday.
"There is no connection between the hoped-for release of our brother Jonathan Pollard and the story of the Iran deal," Bennett stated to Arutz Sheva. "[Pollard] just ended his thirty years [of imprisonment] and according to US law, as stated at the time of the arrest, a committee would look into whether he is dangerous to the public – the answer is no – and to whether he has been treated properly in prison – the answer is no – and thus he is expected to be released."
Bennett stressed that while news of Pollard's release would delight Israel, it would not change its view on the Iran deal.
"We are fighting for the security of Israel and we will make our voices heard – and no one will prevent us from defending ourselves," he said.
Bennett then deflected further questions about Pollard, including about reports which surfaced earlier Monday that he would be released but banned from entering Israel.
"The case is currently being process in the legal system," he said. "We are waiting for an answer there and we are all praying over it, [but] too much talk won't help anything."
Pollard, who was arrested on charges of spying for Israel in 1985 and later sentenced to life in prison, began his 30th year in jail this past November. At that time, the Parole Board of the Justice Department rejected Pollard's parole, with senior U.S. officials involved in the case writing to President Barack Obama to complain that the decision was "deeply flawed".
He has been suffering from poor health – particularly over the past year – and has recently become the subject of a high-profile campaign for his release.
Under sentencing laws at the time he was convicted, Pollard has to be considered for parole after 30 years. The Bureau of Prisons website currently lists his possible release date as November 21, which is the date the federal parole commission is slated to consider whether to end his sentence.