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Secretary of State John Kerry is discussing paroling convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to salvage U.S.-sponsored Middle East peace talks which are on the verge of collapse.
The idea would be to give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu political cover to facilitate the release of Palestinian prisoners which was scheduled to take place last week as part of the peace process, according to U.S. officials involved in the talks.
The delayed prisoner release is a big sticking point for the Palestinians, who are threatening to walk out of the negotiations unless the prisoners are freed. Releasing Pollard would be an extraordinary step underscoring the urgency of U.S. peace efforts.
Pollard, an American Jew who was a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy when he gave thousands of classified documents to his Israeli handler, was arrested by FBI agents in Washington in 1985 and was later sentenced to life in prison.
Kerry met with Netanyahu and with Palestinian negotiator Saab Erekat Monday night. He will return to the region to continue his efforts on Wednesday.
The Associated Press first reported the possibility of Pollard's release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.