Former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday became the most unlikely top American official to endorse the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
Carter, who is known as a fierce critic of Israel, said he supported US President Barack Obama’s decision to release Pollard as part of a diplomatic agreement that US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to broker between Israel and the Palestinians.
As a gesture to Israel, Kerry had offered to bring about Pollard’s release before Passover.
“If the Israelis would agree to accept John Kerry’s proposal, if Pollard was released, I would say yes [to supporting freedom for Pollard],” the former president told the website Politico.
“But I would make it an absolute swap and a certain thing, not just as a factor.”
Carter joined a growing list of top current and former American dignitaries calling for Pollard’s release, which includes former secretaries of state George Schultz and Henry Kissinger, three former heads of the Central Intelligence Agency, former national security adviser Robert McFarlane, and former US deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb.
A group of more than 20 family members of victims of terrorists released as part of the current negotiations sent Obama a letter over the weekend urging him to commute Pollard’s life sentence.
“If all the other considerations and appeals are not enough, please release Pollard as a gesture to the families who lost their dearest ones and had to watch the murderers of their loves ones go free,” they wrote.
“Ending Pollard’s tragedy would give us a bit of consolation.”
The terror victims’ families joined a call for Pollard’s release written last week by kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
“These days I cannot help but feel the great pain of Jonathan Pollard, jailed some 29 years — five times longer than my period of captivity, and this is the United States, our great friend,” Shalit wrote.
“The last time the State of Israel released 80 prisoners with blood on their hands as a gesture to [Abbas] it was at the request of the United States.
Today, according to media reports, the US once again calls for Israel to continue releasing more terrorists within the framework of the fourth round of prisoner releases.
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.”