Reuven Rivlin
Reuven RivlinIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin contacted United States Vice-President Joe Biden on Sunday to express his objections to statements Biden allegedly made regarding Jonathan Pollard. Biden told rabbis from Florida that President Barack Obama had considered releasing Pollard, but that he, Biden, had said, “Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.”

Pollard was sentenced to life in prison for passing classified information to a U.S. ally, Israel.

The sentence was unusually harsh, Rivlin told Biden, and went “far beyond the accepted norms” in American law. Israel believes that the years already served are sufficient punishment, he added.

“The time has come to show mercy and to release him immediately,” Rivlin declared. According to the Jewish calendar, he noted, now is an auspicious time for mercy and forgiveness.

Earlier in the day Rivlin stated that the Pollard affair “has reached the point of absurdity, from every universal, humane and legal standpoint.” Even those American jurists who pushed for a harsh punishment in Pollard’s case agree that he has served enough time, Rivlin noted.

He also mentioned that Biden himself previously made very different remarks regarding Pollard’s case. Analysts have suggested that Biden is attempting to take the blame for Pollard’s continued imprisonment in order to take pressure off Obama, who faces dropping popularity among Jewish voters.