Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed convicted spy Jonathan Pollard to Israel early Wednesday morning just a month after his parole officially ended.
Pollard, 66, was convicted of passing on classified documents to Israel when he was a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst in the 1980s in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars. He was arrested and sentenced to life in prison.
Pollard was paroled in 2015 but was required to stay in the United States. However, he has always expressed his desire to move to Israel with his wife Esther — who is Israeli and whom he married after his prison term started.
Jonathan and Esther Pollard were greeted by the prime minister on the tarmac where Netanyahu gave him an Israeli identity card.
“Now you can start life anew, with freedom and happiness. Now you are home,” the prime minister said.
Pollard removed his mask and kiss the ground.
“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,” Pollard said. “No one could be prouder of this country or this leader than we are and we hope to become productive citizens as soon and as quickly as possible and to get on with our lives here. This is a wonderful country. It has a tremendous future. It is the future of the Jewish people and we’re not going anywhere.”
Israel Hayom reported that the Pollards flew in a private jet from Newark International Airport in New Jersey to accommodate Esther who is being treated for breast cancer.
The Pollards are expected enter quarantine, which is required of all international arrivals, and move to Jerusalem.
Pollard’s lawyer, Eliot Lauer, told The Times of Israel, “The event speaks for itself. A dream realized after 35 very difficult years.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.