Netanyahu asked Trump to 'allow Israeli spy to immigrate to Israel'
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly asked US President Donald Trump to allow a convicted spy to immigrate to Israel, according to the country's Channel 2 television station.
Jonathan Pollard, a former US navy intelligence officer, confessed to spying for Israel between June 1984 until his arrest in November 1985.
During his time in incarceration, Israel repeatedly attempted to secure his release through diplomatic efforts.
He served a total of 30 years in a US prison and was released in 2015. According to Israeli media, his current parole terms require that he stay inside his home between 7pm to 7am, to wear a GPS monitoring device at all times and to submit all computers he uses for inspection by authorities.
It is thought that the Israeli prime minister is seeking to capitalise on the goodwill of the Trump administration, which is generally seen by Israeli right-wingers as more friendly to Israeli interests than that of former US president Barack Obama.
Netanyahu reportedly suggested to Trump that Pollard could immigrate to Israel with the condition that he be subject to the same curfews and restrictions stated on his parole terms.
New reports of lobbying on behalf of the convicted spy may raise alarms among US intelligence officials who have long voiced concerns about the US' alleged laxity towards Israeli espionage.
Last year, an anonymous congressional staffer who worked on intelligence matters was quoted by Newsweek as saying that US intelligence briefings on Israeli spying were "very sobering... alarming... even terrifying".
"No other country close to the United States continues to cross the line on espionage like the Israelis do," the unnamed staffer added.
According to the Newsweek report, US counter-intelligence agents warned members of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees that Israel's espionage activities in the US were going far beyond that of Washington's other close allies.
Responding to the claims, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman bluntly rejected the allegations as "lies and falsehood" and "simply libel which is baseless and unfounded".