President Shimon Peres, age 87, is scheduled to fly to the United States Sunday night for a “working lunch” with 49-year-old U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday.
On the agenda are Iran, Hamas, and the Netanyahu government's ideas to further an agreement with the Palestinian Authority. Esther Pollard has pleaded with President Peres to appeal to his American counterpart to free her ailing husband Jonathan, serving a life prison term for an offense that usually carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail. Normally, Israel's president serves a mainly ceremonial task, but President Peres has continued his former involvement in foreign policy.
The White House said the discussions will include "US-Israeli security cooperation, recent developments across the Middle East, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and its neighbors."
President Peres will speak later the same evening at the Center for Middle East Peace think tank, which has close ties with the Obama government. He also will meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden.
Two issues not mentioned officially, but which the Israeli president may bring up, are the release of two people -- kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit and Jonathan Pollard. Schalit has been held by Hamas terrorists for nearly five years without any communication with the Red Cross or family members, in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Pollard was jailed for life with a recommendation of no parole for passing classified information to Israel. American and other media frequently report incorrectly that Pollard was convicted for “spying.” Many American officials have recently joined the call to free Pollard, whose health has deteriorated.
Presidents Peres and Obama's birthdays are two days apart, albeit separated by 38 years.