Obama welcomes Peres (2009)
Obama welcomes Peres (2009) Israel news photo: Official photo

MK Uri Ariel (National Union), Chairman of the Lobby for Jonathan Pollard, said that the White House's quick negative reply to President Shimon Peres's request to free Pollard "indicates insensitivity bordering on cruelty."

Holding out hope that the White House statement is somehow not a final verdict, MK Ariel said that "this is not a personal response by Obama to the personal letter he received and I hope that his reply will be different."

However, he added, "If Obama, too, announces his refusal, I call upon President Peres to consider forgoing the Medal of Freedom from Obama and cancelling his scheduled meeting with him."

The Committee for Jonathan Pollard also stressed Tuesday that Obama had not yet formally replied to Peres's request. "President Obama did not reject the request of President Peres to set him free. An official reply from President Obama has yet to be received. President Shimon Peres made the request officially and personally to President Obama and we are awaiting a personal and official response directly from President Obama to President Peres."

The Committee added that "the NSC spokesman's announcement reflects the current position, and that announcement made it clear that it did not reflect Obama's response to the request from Peres. It is important to note that President Obama has the sole authority to grant clemency and that any statement from anyone else is irrelevant."