Esther Pollard, the wife of Jonathan Pollard who is currently serving a life sentence in a U.S. prison on allegations of spying for Israel, spoke with Arutz Sheva after her meeting Monday afternoon with Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, and expressed renewed hope in the battle for the release of her husband, which has received support not only from Lapid but from tens of thousands of Israelis as well.
"The meeting was very good, and emotional," Pollard said. "We have a good feeling from Yair that he has an unusual commitment. We finally have someone who is willing to take immediate responsibility."
Pollard referred to a petition circulating online, advocating for Jonathan's release, which has been gaining momentum and has already been signed by tens of thousands of Israelis including a number of MKs such as Yair Lapid, Eitan Cabel, Elazar Stern and Avishai Braverman and former President Yitzhak Navon.
Writers A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman and Nobel Prize winning chemists Dan Shechtman and Aaron Ciechanover are also among those who signed the petition to Obama which states, "After 28 years, the lesson has been learned," and urges Obama to "come to Israel with the news that this tragedy is behind us."
"We are encouraged about Yair's support for our petition calling on [U.S. President Barack] Obama to release Jonathan which has already been signed by 40,000 people and we are very hopeful that the support of Yesh Atid will help us get even more signatures," Pollard said.
"This is a golden opportunity to put an end to the suffering of Jonathan, and it must be done now," she added.
This renewed hope came after Pollard met with the Yesh Atid chairman on Monday, during which Lapid spoke with Jonathan, who had phoned his wife from prison.
Lapid said the conversation, "truly brought tears to my eyes, and I do not mean that figuratively."
"It was a conversation with a desperate and broken man and no one wants to pick up this glove," he added. "We will do everything in our power to pick up the glove."
Many in Israel view Obama's March visit as the perfect opportunity to advocate for Pollard's release.
Likud MK Danny Danon told Arutz Sheva that to the best of his knowledge, Obama will hear "clear statements" on the matter of Pollard from Israel's Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres when he visits.
Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and MK Danon have also contacted members of the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Knesset to sign a joint plea for the commutation of Pollard's sentence to time served, to be handed to Obama upon his arrival.
"We are making the plea on behalf of most of Israel's citizens, who are saying 'enough.' Have mercy and let him go home," Danon said.
"Obama intends to come here in order to make a plea directly to the hearts of Israel's citizens," he added, "and I hope he understands that the path to the Israelis' hearts goes through the release of Pollard."