Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office delivered a letter from Knesset faction
heads to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday,
urging him to support clemency for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
heads of every non-Arab Knesset faction from Meretz to the National Union,
representing 109 MKs, signed the letter. A similar letter was delivered to US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two weeks ago.
“We, the heads of the
Knesset factions, the elected representatives of the citizens of Israel, want to
bring a deeply painful issue to your attention, the plight of Jonathan Pollard,”
the MKs wrote. “It is not disputed that Jonathan Pollard broke the law and he
deserved to be punished.
Nevertheless, the citizens of Israel are united
in their request for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds. He has
served nearly 27 years in prison and his health has deteriorated to a point that
The letter pointed out that Pollard is the only
person in the history of the US to receive a life sentence for spying for an
American ally. It noted that the maximum punishment ever meted out for that
offense was 14 years.
“The citizens of Israel have great difficulty in
accepting this fact, especially in light of the special, warm relationship
between our countries,” the MKs wrote. “Many Israelis have verbalized their
concern thus: ‘How can it be that Pollard serves the same sentence that is meted
out only to those who have spied for the very worst of America’s enemies?’” The
MKs urged Romney to follow in the footsteps of current and former senior
American officials who have endorsed Pollard’s release.
Romney did not make any public statements about Pollard on his Israel visit. The
matter was raised in his private meetings.
In his only public comments
about Pollard so far, Romney told the Conference of Presidents of Major American
Jewish Organizations in December that he was “open to examining” the
The Knesset State Control Committee will convene Tuesday to monitor
the government’s efforts to bring about Pollard’s release.
Minister’s Office told committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) that
despite his requests, it would not send representatives to the meeting.