Acting Knesset Speaker Binyamin Ben-Eliezer informed Member of Knesset Yoni Shetbon on Monday that the Knesset will hold a discussion on how to facilitate the release of Jonathan Pollard, who has been behind bars in the United States for nearly 10,000 days for passing classified information to Israel.
Shetbon, who called for the Knesset session in light of President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Israel, urged all Knesset members to take part, saying it is the Jewish people's "moral duty" to bring about Pollard’s release.
Lawrence Korb, a deputy secretary of defense at the time of Pollard's arrest, who has been active in efforts to obtain his freedom, will address the session.
Korb met Monday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, and also met on Sunday with Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein.
Last week Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he would submit for approval the proposal to award Pollard with the Jerusalem Freedom Award as “a sign expressing the desire of the Jewish people to be a free people in our land of Zion and Jerusalem.”
Addressing hundreds of participants of the Miami Jewish Federation's mission to Israel, Barkat said that the Jerusalem Council places utmost importance on Pollard’s safe return to “his family and his people.”
"Many people throughout the world find it difficult to understand the supreme value that the State of Israel places on a single human life," he said. “Even in the most difficult times, Jonathan Pollard never stopped dreaming about Jerusalem and we pray that his dreams come true."
"We must act utilizing all available means to free our people,” Barkat said, stressing the importance of the upcoming holiday of Passover, which symbolizes the Jewish exodus from slavery to freedom.
City Council member Yair Gabbai, who proposed the initiative, said, "I congratulate the mayor who adopted my initiative to give the signal of freedom of Jerusalem Jonathan Pollard.”
“As public representatives we should do everything to bring him home… I hope that this initiative will be heard in the corridors of the White House and will end the suffering of our brothers Jonathan Pollard,” he added.
Pollard, 58, who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for allegedly supplying Israel with classified information, is believed to be in poor health.
Over 50,000 thousand people have already signed onto an online petition for Pollard's release, despite stiff American opposition.
“We appeal to you as one who symbolizes the shared values of humanity, compassion and hope for a second chance, that both of our nations embrace,” the petition states. “We implore you to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served without delay and allow him to live out his remaining days as a free man.”
It is our fervent hope and prayer that your upcoming trip to Israel will bring us the good news we have waited for, for so very long, and that this tragic and painful episode can finally be put to rest once and for all,” it adds.