American spy’s release in play for Mideast peace

FILE - This May 15, 1998 file photo shows Jonathan Pollard speaking during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, N.C. An AP source says, the U.S. is talking with Israel about early release of Pollard for concessions. (AP File Photo/Karl DeBlaker)
FILE - This May 15, 1998 file photo shows Jonathan Pollard speaking during an interview in a conference room at the Federal Correction Institution in Butner, N.C. An AP source says, the U.S. is talking with Israel about early release of Pollard for concessions. (AP File Photo/Karl DeBlaker)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Every president since Ronald Reagan has refused to release American spy Jonathan Pollard from prison. A CIA director once threatened to resign if Pollard was freed as part of peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leaders.

But now, in a gamble to extend Mideast peace negotiations that appear on the brink of collapse, the Obama administration appears to be bringing the U.S. closer than it’s been in years to granting Pollard an early release.

If Pollard’s freedom leads to a final peace settlement, it could mark a major foreign policy victory for Secretary of State John Kerry, who has toiled to achieve an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians after decades of distrust and violence. But if Pollard is freed and the talks fail, it could be a costly embarrassment.

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