Former Florida congressman Robert Wexler, who has been the closest adviser to US President Barack Obama on Middle East issues for several years, wrote to him on Friday asking him to commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Wexler joined a long list of senior current and former American and Israeli officials who have written Obama asking him to release Pollard, but he is arguably the closest among them to the US president.

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“I write to you in order to join the long list of members of Congress, former administration officials, Nobel laureates, diplomats and religious leaders asking you to grant clemency for Jonathan Pollard,” Wexler wrote. “This letter does not seek to diminish the significance of his crime, nor does it wish to dispute the conditions under which the sentence was originally passed. The purpose of this letter is to advocate that Mr.

Pollard be held to the same standards of punishment for his actions as others convicted of similar crimes.”

Wexler wrote that Pollard is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for disclosing classified information to an American ally. He added that Pollard is the only American citizen convicted of such a crime to be sentenced to more than 14 years in prison, and the punishment for such a crime is now set at a maximum of 10 years.

“Having spent over 25 years in incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, and having expressed remorse for his crimes, it is my humble opinion that Mr. Pollard has served sufficient time – both in terms of punishment for his crimes and in terms of deterrence to would-be perpetrators,” Wexler wrote. “I therefore ask that you consider asserting your constitutional authority to grant clemency for Mr. Pollard.”

Wexler is currently the president of the Washington- based S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, which works with leaders and policymakers in the United States and the Middle East, including the Obama administration, to help reach a just and comprehensive peace that will bring an end to the Arab- Israeli conflict.

Then-congressman Wexler served as an adviser to Obama on issues relating to Israel and the Middle East during his 2008 presidential campaign. He continues to work with the president through his work at the Abraham Center. In addition, it has been reported that Wexler is a member of a team of high-profile individuals in the American Jewish community who have been tapped by the president’s campaign advisers to assist him in responding to criticism of his stance on Israel during his upcoming reelection campaign.

During his tenure in Congress, Wexler was an outspoken advocate for the strong bond between the United States and Israel, and a leading proponent of Israel’s right to self-defense and the need for a just and comprehensive resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Pollard, who turns 57 on Sunday, August 7, underwent an urgent surgical procedure on Tuesday after suffering from intense pain caused by problems with his kidneys, gall bladder, and high blood pressure.

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