Report: US could free Israeli spy to save talks

The United States could free an Israeli spy serving a life sentence as part of a deal to salvage Middle East peace talks, Reuters reports.

The deal might allow Jonathan Pollard, a former Navy analyst convicted of spying for Israeli in the 1980s, to be freed, as well as groups of Palestinian prisoners, sources close to the talks told the wire service.

Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryShould President Trump, like President Obama, forsake human rights in pursuit of the deal with a tyrant? GOP Senate report says Obama officials gave Iran access to US financial system Democrats conflicted over how hard to hit Trump on Iran MORE is heading back to Israel on Monday, as he seeks to salvage the peace talks between Jerusalem and the Palestinians.

The talks were endangered when Israel refused to release 26 Palestinian prisoners on Saturday, as it had promised. Israeli officials said they would not move forward with the release without a firm commitment from Palestinians to continue the talks.

Under the terms of the potential deal to keep the peace talks going, those Palestinian prisoners would also be released, the report says.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday declined to comment on whether Pollard's release could be part of the negotiations.

"On the question about release of prisoners, this is a complicated issue that is being worked through with the parties, and I'm not going to get into details about that,” Carney said. “With regards to Mr. Pollard, he is a person who was convicted of espionage and is serving his sentence. And I don't have any update on his situation.”

Israel has long urged the United States to free Pollard, but successive administrations have declined to do so.

— Justin Sink contributed.