The Obama administration is bringing the U.S. closer than it has been in years to granting convicted spy Jonathan Pollard an early release as part of Mideast peace talks.

It's a high-stakes gamble. If Pollard's freedom leads eventually to a final peace settlement, it could mark a major victory for Secretary of State John Kerry, who has worked for months to advance Mideast peace efforts. But if Pollard is freed and the talks fail, it could be a costly embarrassment.

The White House insisted Tuesday that President Barack Obama has not decided whether to release Pollard, a former U.S. Navy analyst who was sentenced to life in prison nearly 30 years ago for selling classified military documents to the Israeli government.