Twenty-eight years less one day have passed since US intelligence officer Jonathan Pollard was arrested by FBI agents outside the Israeli Embassy on Washington, DC, on suspicion that he had spied for Israel on the US. He has been in jail ever since.
On Wednesday, Knesset Members from across the political spectrum united in calling for his release.
Knesset Members Hilik Bar (Labor), filed a proposal for the Knesset agenda, together with MKs Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) and David Azoulai (Shas), calling for Pollard's immediate release.
MK Bar noted that the struggle for Pollard's release “crosses party lines and is above any party opinion or affiliation.”
"Pollard paid a price that was higher and heavier than usual for his deeds, and as a Member of Israel's Knesset and Director of the Labor Party, I call for him to be immediately released and brought home to the state of Israel and to his family.”
MK Azoulai also called on the Obama administration to let Pollard go. “Do not tell others to do what you do not do yourselves. Do not preach to us about being humane. In this matter, the Americans are not the classic example that we would like to see.”
MK Azoulai called for a formal Knesset delegation to visit Pollard in jail, and said a blessing: “I wish to bless Yonatan ben [the son of] Malka; may the Holy One, Blessed be He, offer help, and the prayers be accepted, and that he will go from the darkness to the light, and we will fulfill the will of Maran [Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ztz”l] who prayed for him at every opportunity and asked us not to let go of this matter.”
The United States promised Israel that Pollard would serve no more than a ten-year jail sentence, according to Pollard's former handler, ex-minister Rafi Eitan, but then reneged on the guarantee and jailed him for life.
"He has served time for what he did, above and beyond what was understood at the time by the governments of Israel and the US,” Eitan said eight days ago in an interview on IDF Radio. “The understanding was that he would not be jailed for more than ten years.”
Eitan said that Pollard has served more time in jail than anyone else convicted of a similar offense in the US, and apologized to Pollard “for his being in jail for so many years.”