The visit of Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon with Jonathan Pollard in prison in the U.S. has been canceled due to Pollard's poor medical condition, it was announced on Monday.
“Jonathan had hoped until the last minute that he would be strong enough for the visit,” said his wife, Esther. “He really wanted to pass a message to the Prime Minister through Minister Kahlon and ask him to act as quickly as possible for his release.”
Kahlon’s planned visit with Pollard was announced last week. The visit, which was approved by American authorities, would have marked the first time in many years that an Israeli Cabinet minister visits Pollard in prison.
“On the one hand, we try to be encouraged by the fact that more and more senior American officials are calling for his immediate release, but on the other hand Jonathan is so weak after nearly 26 years in prison, that I pray every day that G-d will give him the strength to survive,” said Esther.
She was referring to the incredible show of support for her husband’s release over the past few months. The supporters have included former Vice President Dan Quayle, former senior U.S. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to name a few.
United States Senator John McCain also said last week that he supports the release of Pollard. He expressed his support for the release during a phone call with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
McCain had previously been one of the main opponents to Pollard's release, and worked to prevent it during Bill Clinton’s term as President.
The Leaders of the Conference of Presidents also raised the Pollard issue several weeks ago during a meeting with members of the Obama Administration, including the President himself.
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, presented Obama with a letter, pointing out that it speaks of the Pollard issue. Obama thanked him and promised to look at the letter.
A conference member had expressed at the time careful optimism over Pollard’s release. “Obama is now well aware that American Jews see the release of Pollard as a required basic step towards justice,” he said.