It's not an April Fool's joke, but it should be: A deal appears to be in the works to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from prison in exchange for Israeli concessions to keep peace talks going with the Palestinians.
Reports suggest the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would agree to a partial settlement freeze and continued release of Palestinian prisoners, while Palestinians would agree to keep the talks going into 2015 and not seek U.N. recognition for their state. In exchange, Pollard would be free in time for Passover, fulfilling one of Netanyahu's priorities since his first term as prime minister in the 1990s.
U.S. intelligence officials have strongly opposed Pollard's release, and successive Republican and Democratic administrations have refused Israeli pleas to do so since his conviction in 1987. That the Obama administration is seriously considering his release is a sign of how much importance it attaches to keeping the talks alive.
But observers are right to be skeptical. Dangling Pollard in front of Netanyahu doesn't solve the structural problem shadowing the talks: They won't guarantee peace as long as Iran remains the primary threat to Israel's security. And President Obama continues to ignore this in his desperation to get a signed Israeli-Palestinian deal as his legacy.
As I've written before, it doesn't matter what kind of inducements Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry offer to get the Israelis and Palestinians to sign a deal if that deal won't bring peace. As long as Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah and Iran-supported Islamist terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to threaten Israel, the "peace process" is just futile political theater.