Peres to Raise Pollard Issue During Obama's Visit
President Shimon Peres met on Monday evening in his office with former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb, Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, and the heads of the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard.
President Peres began the meeting by stressing the importance of the efforts and cooperation on behalf of all those working for the freedom of Jonathan Pollard and said, "We all want Jonathan to be freed, in all my previous meetings with President Obama I raised the issue and I sent a special letter requesting that Jonathan Pollard be released on humanitarian grounds.”
He added, “I intend to raise this important issue again in my meeting with President Obama during his visit here in Israel.”
During the meeting President Peres updated Korb on the efforts thus far and asked to hear from him the view and mood in the United States on the issue.
They discussed the efforts made to free Pollard and President Peres thanked Esther Pollard and the representatives of the committee and said, "I thank you for your involvement and cooperation."
Esther Pollard told President Peres, "Mr. President, you are the only person in the world who can save Jonathan – I am here to give you strength."
Earlier on Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Esther Pollard as well.
At the start of the meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said, "The time has long since come for Jonathan to go free. This issue will come up during President Obama's visit. It has already been raised countless times by myself and others, and the time has come for him to go free."
Esther Pollard said, "Jonathan can't go on anymore. This is a golden opportunity now that the President of the United States is coming. If not now, when?"
Korb, who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Jonathan Pollard affair arrived in Israel on Saturday night in order to aid the efforts on Pollard's behalf.
Korb has said publicly and written a letter to the effect that Pollard has been punished more than enough, and has held meetings and talks over the past few months with various officials in the U.S. on the subject.
On the other hand, reports last week indicated that U.S. President Barack Obama has no intention of releasing Pollard from prison, despite the fact that over 70,000 thousand people have already signed onto an online petition calling for Pollard’s release.
Close associates of Obama reportedly said last week that Obama “does not understand why he should pardon a traitor, when tens of thousands of African Americans are rotting in prison for life over less serious crimes.”
The officials also indicated that Obama does not intend to present any gestures involving Pollard during his visit to Israel next month.
The petition circulating online advocating for Jonathan's release has been signed by tens of thousands of Israelis, including a number of MKs such as Yair Lapid, Eitan Cabel (Labor), Elazar Stern (Hatnua) and Avishai Braverman (Labor). Former President Yitzchak Navon has signed the petition as well.
Leftist writers A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, Nobel Prize winning chemists Dan Shechtman and Aaron Ciechanover and the heads of major Israeli hospitals are also among those who signed the petition to Obama.