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      Gilad Shalit Joins Calls to Release Jonathan Pollard

      Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas and kept prisoner for 5 years, joins mounting calls for US to release Jonathan Pollard.
      By Uzi Baruch, Tova Dvorin
      First Publish: 12/24/2013, 10:28 AM

      Gilad Shalit
      Gilad Shalit
      Flash 90

      Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas and imprisoned for 5 years, called on the US to release Jonathan Pollard on Tuesday. 

      "I heard the request tonight, like everyone else, from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to release Jonathan Pollard, who has sat for 29 years in prison," Shalit wrote to Yediot Aharonot. "After Israel has released terrorist prisoners back to the Palestinian Authority as a gesture [for negotiations], we ask for a mutual gesture."  

      "I am sure that like me, the entire nation of Israel agrees that to demand such a simple gesture as Pollard's release is well-deserved," Shalit continued. 

      "Please - all of you - join me in a clear call to our friends the Americans: We released dozens of terrorists with blood on their hands at your request - so extend to us this one gesture that can likely save [Pollard's] life," he urged.

      Shalit's statement touches a less-explored side of the Pollard issue, which has made headlines this week after documents revealed that the US and Britain have been spying on top-ranking Israeli officials. 

      The New York Times reported Friday that in monitoring more than 1,000 targets in upwards of 60 countries between 2008 to 2011, US and British intelligence agencies tapped the communications of Netanyahu and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, among other foreign leaders, according to secret documents revealed by intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

      Until now, calls for Pollard's release have stemmed from the fact that Pollard has been imprisoned for an unprecedented amount of time for spying for Israel - but the US and Britain's operations have been far more extensive, critics say. 

      Shalit's point addresses the fact that Israel has been generous about releasing convicted terrorists back to the PA to appease the US, who is brokering peace talks between the PA and Israel. Pollard, by contrast, presents little security risk to the US. 

      Shalit is the latest to demand Pollard's release, after several MKs and leading Israeli and American figures appealed for an end to his imprisonment earlier this week. 

      "The recent revelations about the US spying on its ally, Israel, should be a red flag for any intelligent, thinking person," MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) stated Sunday. 

      "A relationship between allies demands reciprocity," the MK continued. "It is impossible that while Jonathan Pollard rots in prison after several decades over spying allegations [. . .] that Israel should take this exposure of the US's spying activities against Israel quietly." 

      "I call on the US government to release Pollard immediately, and to assume the correct course of action in light of the current revelations," she continued.

      So far, those cries have remained unheeded. On Monday, Channel 10 reported that President Barack Obama has no immediate plans to release Jonathan Pollard.

      White House officials told the news agency that Obama "stands behind what he said just before his visit to Israel. Pollard committed a very serious crime, and there is no intention to release him.”

      Earlier Monday, Channel 2 reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will officially demand the release of Pollard from the U.S.

      The report, which remains unconfirmed, stated that Netanyahu will ask for Pollard's release in one of two frameworks: either for another exchange of more Arab terrorist prisoners, or as part of agreeing to the interim deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.