Shaul Halfon, one of the leaders of the movement working for the release of Jonathan Pollard, said on Wednesday that he is disappointed in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to the United States this week.
“A leader should be responsible for all Jews, and especially for Jonathan who gave his life for the people of Israel,” Halfon told Arutz Sheva. “He was sent by the leaders of Israel and worked in the interests of Israel’s national security. He did not murder, did not steal, and did not do anything against the United States.”
Netanyahu hinted on Monday that he raised the issue of Pollard's release from U.S. prison during his meeting with President Obama. Pollard has served 27 years of a life sentence for passing classified data to Israel.
“I have worked for his release in the past, and always will work for his release,” Netanyahu told reporters after the meeting.
Halfon said that Netanyahu should have demanded that Pollard be released, saying, “This should be the duty of the Prime Minister. He should have told the members of Congress that he is not going home without Jonathan.”
He added, “There was an opportunity to finally free him. They released 1,000 terrorists in exchange for Gilad Shalit yet nothing is moving with Pollard.”
President Shimon Peres formally asked Obama to release Pollard during their meeting at the White House on Sunday.
Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said in an interview with Arutz Sheva this week that the fact that Pollard was still in prison was “intolerable.”
“There is no situation in which an American citizen sits in prison without the possibility of getting out,” he said. “And he passed information to a friendly country, not to Russia, China or hostile countries like Iran. After 27 years it’s time to release him. His health situation is bad and this cruelty is intolerable.”
Minister Shalom said that the Pollard issue should be raised at every meeting with the American leadership and noted that he himself has done so.