Thirty-five years after being arrested for spying for Israel, Jonathan Pollard landed in Israel early Wednesday morning, accompanied by his wife Esther.
The Pollards arrived in Israel on a direct private flight from Liberty Airport to Ben Gurion Airport. The flight was funded by Billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
The Pollards will live in Jerusalem.
They entered a two-week quarantine upon their arrival in the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the Pollards upon their arrival in Israel, reciting the Shehechiyanu blessing together.
Netanyahu presented Pollard with an Israeli identity card and told them, “Welcome back, how good it is that you have come home. Now you can start life anew, with freedom and happiness. Now you are at home.”
Jonathan Pollard said that they “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. No one could be prouder of this country or this leader than we are.”
“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,” he added.
“This is Pollard’s first sunrise in Jerusalem. We all pray that the pain and suffering of Pollard’s long years in prison will be behind him forever,” stated his attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
After serving 30 years in a US prison for his espionage activity for Israel, Pollard, a former US Navy analyst, was released in 2015 but was banned from leaving the US and was placed under several other limitations. Under the terms of his parole, Pollard was forced to remain in the US until 2020 unless he receives permission from the president to leave. The restrictions ended and were not extended in November.
Pollard’s wife Esther, an Israeli citizen, is contending with advanced cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy, and so the Pollards’ arrival in Israel was delayed.