Tel Aviv: Jonathan Pollard, who spent over 30 years in US prison for espionage for Israel, arrives in Israel early Wednesday with his wife, triumphantly kissing the ground as he culminates in a decade-long affair that has long been between the two The relationship was strained with allies exiting the aircraft.
Pollard was highly welcomed at Israel‘s international airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who granted him and his wife Esther citizenship by giving them Israeli ID cards.
“Welcome back. in a statement released by PMs office, Benjamin Netanyahu said,” How good you are at home. “He said they could begin a new life” in freedom and happiness “in Israel. Pollard said, “We are going to stay in the house for the last time.”
The statement quoted Pollard as saying he was “very excited for home” after 35 years of results. He thanked Netanyahu and the Jewish people for supporting him.
A video released by Netanyahu’s office showed Pollard walking down the plane’s stairs and kissing the ground.
Pollard, a civil intelligence analyst with the US Navy, sold military secrets to Israel in the 1980s while working at the Pentagon. He was arrested and convicted in 1985 after a failed attempt to find asylum at the Israeli embassy in Washington. The espionage affair embarrassed Israel and stigmatized its relations with the United States for years.
Pollard was sentenced to life imprisonment and US defence and intelligence officials repeatedly argued to release Pollard. But later after serving for more than 30 years in federal prison, he was freed on November 20, 2015, and placed on a five-year parole period ending in November. This led to their US. The way to leave was cleared.
Pollard, 66, arrived in a plane owned by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a strong supporter of Netanyahu and President Donald Trump.
Pictures of the aircraft matched the plane’s colour scheme owned by Pollard-owned hotel and casino company Las Vegas Sands Corp. Flight-tracking data included the Boeing 737 company’s ownership, which owned the telephone number N108MS, leaving Newark for Ben-Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.
Pollard’s arrival was initially reported by Israel Hayom, a newspaper owned by Adelson. The newspaper published photos of both Pollard and his wife wearing masks, which it says were a private plane that arrived from Newark, New Jersey on Wednesday.
It said that private flight was necessary due to the medical needs of Esther Pollard, who is undergoing treatment for cancer. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Boaz Bismuth, called it the “most exciting day” of his four-decade journalism career.
Effie Lahav, head of the activist group who campaigned for Pollard’s release from prison, said Pollard was flown overnight on a “Top Secret” mission. “The fact that Esther and Jonathan arrived here in Israel makes us very excited,” he told the army radio station.
The Ynet website said the couple was in quarantine, mandating all Israelis’ return as a measure to guard against the spread of coronaviruses. The country has barred all tourists from visiting but appeared to welcome the couple as Israelis.
Pollard’s release was the latest in a long line of diplomatic gifts given by President Donald Trump to Netanyahu. His arrival in Israel gives Netanyahu a welcome boost as he fights for election in the March 23 parliamentary elections.
Netanyahu has been one of Trump’s closest allies on the international stage. Over the past four years, Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy to the Holy City.
In other departures from traditional US positions, he has also recognized Israel’s declaration of the Golan Heights, saying Israeli West Bank settlements are not illegal and a series of diplomatic agreements between Israel and Arab countries.
Inputs from AP.