Jonathan Pollard welcomed by Netanyahu as he arrives in Israel

The intelligence analyst convicted of spying of Israel thanks the PM for bringing him home


Jonathan Pollard, the former American naval intelligence analyst who spent 30 years in jail for spying for Israel, finally fulfilled his dream of making aliyah when he arrived at Ben Gurion airport with his wife Esther early on Wednesday morning.

The couple, wearing masks as they disembarked from the plane, kissed the ground as they were greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Netanyahu recited the shecheyanu blessing and said, "You're home."

Mr Pollard, 66, said "We are ecstatic to be home at last after 35 years and we thank the people and the Prime Minister of Israel for bringing us home. No one could be prouder of this country or this leader as we are."

Israel was a "wonderful country" and "the future of the Jewish people," he said.

He was arrested in 1985 after trying to claim asylum at the Israeli Embassy in Washington and two years later received a life sentence, having pleaded guilty to passing thousands of classified defence documents to Israel.

For years, Israeli and diaspora campaigners lobbied for his release, believing  his sentence too harsh.

In 2015, he was freed on parole under strict conditions including a night curfew and having to wear an electronic tag.

But last month, Mr Netanyahu telephoned him to say he would soon be on his way to Israel.

Mr Pollard was flown on a private jet supplied by the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Israel Hayom newspaper.

But Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the country to “lower our excitement – it doesn’t help with the American defence system, which sees the Pollard affair as an unacceptable incident.”


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