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US Jewish Leaders Have 'Consensus': Pollard Must Be Freed

MK Tzipi Hotovely, returning from US, says Jewish leaders cited 'moral obligation to demand' Pollard's release; Peres, MKs petition Obama.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 12/27/2013, 9:39 AM

MK Tzipi Hotovely
MK Tzipi Hotovely
Flash 90

MK Tzipi Hotovely called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to demand the freedom of captive Jonathan Pollard from US President Barack Obama Thursday, after returning from a visit to the US. 

"I returned this week from a visit to the United States, during which I met with Jewish community leaders," wrote Hotovely on her Facebook page.

"There is a consensus about Jonathan Pollard: it is a moral obligation of the government of Israel and of American Jewry to seek his release," she continued.

Hotovely also connected the issue with the recent revelations that the US has been spying on Israel, saying that this is "an opportunity" for the Prime Minister to reiterate the urgency of the Pollard case. 

Pollard has been subject of a high-profile campaign for his release, after being held in the US for more than 28 years on spying allegations. He was arrested by FBI agents in 1985 and held since. 

Several efforts have been made over the intervening decades to secure Pollard's freedom. 

Efforts have redoubled and escalated over the past week, after it was revealed that the US and UK had been closely monitoring several top-ranking Israeli officials, including Netanyahu and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

So far, reports indicate that Netanyahu will be demanding Pollard's freedom - possibly within the framework of the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

However, White House spokespeople said Monday that Obama has no intention of releasing the captive. 

Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres has also dedicated the remainder of his term to the cause, according to Yediot Aharonot. Peres has reportedly agreed to give Obama a petition signed by 106 MKs for Pollard's release, following a landmark Knesset meeting Wednesday in the name of Pollard's freedom. 

The letter notes that previous US administrations have agreed to work toward Pollard's release.

"Pollard has committed a serious offense," the letter reads, "but he - and the State of Israel - have apologized." 

"Pollard's release has been a long time coming," the letter continues. "It's time for his release, which is critical for US-Israel relations at this time." 

The letter was handed over to US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.