After Gingrich fall, Pollards future still unpredictable

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Jonathan Pollard is riding the political roller-coaster once again.

On one hand, the admitted spy is chortling with delight over the recent fall of Newt Gingrich. On the other hand, Pollard is letdown in the aftermath of the Wye acoord.

This week, Israel's Supreme Court rejected a petition Pollard filed to block the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners until he is freed. In the petition, Pollard asserted that President Clinton reneged on a promise to release him as part of the Wye talks last month.

In a recent interview from his cell at North Carolina's Butner Federal Penitentiary, Pollard made clear that he puts the primary blame for the collapse of a purported Wye deal on Speaker of the House Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.).

Pollard was incensed that when the news of his possible release prematurely leaked to the press, Gingrich and Lott — long seen as staunch political allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — immediately dispatched a stern open letter to Clinton asking that he not free Pollard.

Calling Pollard "one of the most notorious traitors in U.S. history," the GOP leaders expressed the fear that once Pollard was allowed to go to Israel he might "resume his treacherous conduct."

Pollard called Gingrich's decision to resign from the House "a wonderful irony. Newt tried to prevent me from ever seeing the light of day, but I'm still alive and struggling for my freedom and Newt is finished politically."

Despite Pollard's optimism, pro-Israel sources in Washington believe that his chances for an early release have worsened.

The New York Times reported last week that CIA director George Tenet had threatened to resign if Clinton decided to release Pollard as part of the Wye accord.

And Rep. Robert Livingston (R-La.), who was selected as the new Speaker of the House this week, may become Pollard's biggest obstacle.

According to one highly placed Jewish Republican source, "Livingston just doesn't have the web of relationships with the Jewish community that Gingrich had, and he doesn't have Gingrich's ideological world view in which Israel played an important part. He is very close to the intelligence community that is adamantly opposed to freeing Pollard."

Some even believe the events at the Wye summit may have effectively killed for the time being any chance that Clinton will free Pollard.

They point out that much of the conservative, pro-Israel community in Washington — Jews who most frequently interact with the GOP leadership and might ameliorate their opposition on the issue — is either lukewarm or downright hostile to Pollard.

For his part, Pollard said he "has hopes" Clinton will still decide to commute his sentence.