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US denies deal with Israel on Pollard

The US State Department has denied that a backroom agreement was made on the release of Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard
Jonathan Pollard in a photo from his US Naval Intelligence ID (US Navy file)

According to reports coming out of Jerusalem, Israel has offered the Palestinians a new deal in efforts to revive the failing peace talks. 

A diplomatic source told the Jerusalem Post part of the reason for this offer, which was put forward by Justice Minister Tzipi Livini, was an assurance from America the release of Israeli spy Jonathon Pollard was not off the table.

The newspaper reports their source as saying, "if the Palestinian Authority agrees to stop its plans to join a number of international treaties and conventions, Israel will agree to a new prisoner release package in return for the continuation of negotiations until the end of the year at a minimum."

The source also said, "the US mediator sent a message to Israel - the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from a US prison is still a possibility the US administration will consider, if the sides reach a deal that includes Israel freeing terrorists."

However, late on Thursday State Department Spokeswomen Jen Psaki said reports of a US-Israel deal on Pollard were "inaccurate".

“Nothing has changed. No decision has been made about Jonathan Pollard,” said Psaki.

American-born Pollard has been in prison in the United States since 1987. He has been in prison for 27 years for passing US military secrets to Israel while he was working in the US Navy. Pollard will be eligible for release in November 2015. 

Abbas said Thursday that the  Palestinian Authority was willing to extend peace talks past the 29 April deadline. 

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