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      Knesset to Biden: Free Pollard as Gesture Toward Israel

      Heads of most Knesset factions plead with US Vice President Biden to free Jonathan Pollard prior to the Passover holiday.
      By Malkah Fleisher
      First Publish: 3/10/2010, 10:12 PM / Last Update: 3/10/2010, 10:40 PM

      Israel news file (photo)

      MK Uri Ariel, chairman of the Caucus for Jonathan Pollard in the Knesset and the heads of most Knesset factions directed a plea to US Vice President Joe Biden plea to free Jonathan Pollard, a man convicted of spying for Israel who has become a people's hero in the Jewish State.

      Pollard is currently serving his 25th year of a life sentence for passing classified information to Israel which was "vital to Israel's security," according to Pollard's website.

      "We appeal to his honor with an emotional prayer from the depths of the heart," wrote the Knesset members, "to lead with kindness and mercy regarding Jonathan Pollard, who is ill, and to
      ...shorten his sentence as a humanitarian gesture to the Jewish people, prior to the Passover holiday, the Festival of Freedom.
      shorten his sentence as a humanitarian gesture to the Jewish people, prior to the Passover holiday, the Festival of Freedom."

      In the letter they sent to Biden, the MKs added, "The holiday of Passover – the celebration of freedom for our people, is quickly approaching, but our holiday joy is clouded, because we know that for 25 years Jonathan Pollard is in jail in the United States, and that recently, the condition of his health has severely declined. Jonathan, who expressed remorse for his actions, received the harshest punishment, even compared to other people in the US who were punished for the same crime. The accepted punishment for this type of crime is just 2 to 4 years."

      The MKs noted that in an interview conducted in the past, Biden said that the request to shorten Pollard's sentence was a "perfectly rational" one. "Jonathan Pollard's release this year could give additional significance to the idea of 'the holiday of freedom' for the Jewish nation, a true expression of the good relations and friendship between our two nations," the MKs wrote, predicting that releasing Pollard would bring only good things to the United States "which should be blessed from the mouth of the Most High".

      Signatories are Uri Ariel (National Union), Dalia Itzik (Kadima), Zeev Elkin (Likud), Robert Ilatov (Israel Our Home), Avraham Michaeli (Shas), Orit Noked (Labor), Menachem Moses (Judaism Torah), Yaakov Katz (National Union) and Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home). Meretz faction chairman, Ilan Gilon, refused to sign the letter.