JERUSALEM, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Israeli officials Sunday called for the release of jailed Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard amid reports the Washington spied on Israel, officials said.
The calls followed weekend revelations that the United States and Britain spied on former and current Israeli leaders by monitoring electronic mail and telephone conversations. The details leaked to the press by former American National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden generated an angry response from Israeli Knesset members.
At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised Israel would continue working for Pollard's release, the Times of Israel and Israel Radio reported. Pollard, a former navy analyst has served 28 years of a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel.
"We don't need a special incident to work for the release of Jonathan Pollard. I have dealt with this [issue] with every U.S. president [I have met], including President Obama, at all periods, including this time. I hope the circumstances allow us to bring Jonathan home," the Times quoted Netanyahu saying.
Transport Minister Yisrael Katz noted Pollard was arrested for far less than the alleged espionage acts revealed in recent days. "This is how friends behave?" the Jerusalem Post quoted him saying.
"These reports strengthen the argument that it's simply unjust to continue to punish him, since we now know that the United States worked in a variety of ways to surveil and collect intelligence on an ally as close as Israel," the Times quoted Opposition leader Isaac Herzog saying.
The New York Times reported Friday that secret documents revealed more than 1,000 targets of U.S. and British surveillance in recent years, including the offices of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and former Defense Minister Ehud Barak as well as Netanyahu and other foreign energy companies and heads of international aid organizations.