Israel Radio reported Tuesday that U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones has apologized for remarks on convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and said that he had been misinterpreted.
Jones told a university conference earlier in the day that the United States had been lenient with Pollard as it did not execute him for spying for Israel.
The ambassador also expressed remorse for the distress the Pollard family and friends have underwent since his arrest, according to the radio.
The Foreign Ministry's deputy director general for North American affairs, Yoram Ben Zeev, phoned Jones to learn, firsthand, what he had said.
Ben Zeev reiterated that Israel had made mistakes but that Pollard should be released for "humanitarian reasons," a Foreign Ministry official said.
Following Jones' remarks, Industry and Trade Minister Eli Yishai on Monday asked the United States to explain the comments.
"I know many spies whose sentences were cut or who were even released," Yishai said. "Pollard is undergoing physical and emotional hardship, and I am sure that this comment does not reflect the administration's policy."
Jones had said Monday that Pollard is unlikely ever to be released. Speaking at a Bar-Ilan University conference on U.S.-Israel relations, the ambassador said that "It came out in the trial very clearly, Jonathan Pollard took money for what he did, he sold out his country."
Jones went further and said that "the fact that he wasn't executed is the mercy that Jonathan Pollard will receive."
An Israeli political official said Israel would continue to work for Pollard's release.
Ambassador Jones, he was not convicted of treason, did not commit treason but we suspect that's what Weinberger whispered in the judge's ear.