President Shimon Peres will raise the issue of releasing convicted spy Jonathan
Pollard from an American prison on humanitarian grounds when he meets with US
President Barack Obama, during the latter’s planned visit to Israel next
Peres, toward the conclusion of a tour of the Sdot Negev Regional
Council on Tuesday, met with 200 local high school students and was asked by
pupils during the meeting about the possibility of securing Pollard’s
Peres replied that just as he has raised the Pollard issue with
Obama during previous meetings, he will do so again.
“I will do
everything in my power to convey a clear message that Jonathan Pollard must have
his sentence commuted on humanitarian grounds, just as I, as president, act to
commute sentences on humanitarian grounds,” said Peres.
calling for Pollard’s release has so far been signed by close to 70,000
Peres also answered questions about the rocket that hit
Ashkelon earlier that day and the simmering unrest in the West
“Quiet will be met with quiet,” he said, “and missiles will be met
with an appropriate response.”
The Palestinians have an interest in
maintaining quiet, said Peres, noting that without quiet, they endanger the
development of their civil life and their agriculture.
The president said
he had no desire to be a prophet of doom, nor was he inclined to respond to
rumors, and said he would not say more on the subject before receiving a
detailed report from security authorities.
While inspecting the local
greenhouse on the Tekuma moshav, Peres commended the farmers for their stoicism
under fire and their ability to produce excellent yields despite the security
situation. Peres also joined the 30 farmers – who are developing new strains of
produce – in harvesting tomatoes, and was pleasantly surprised when one of them,
Zion Cohen, said they decided to name a tomato after him.
Peres said that
regardless of the security situation, he could see that crops were flourishing,
due in no small measure to agro-tech which he believed could help the rest of
the Middle East, and ultimately other parts of the world, to find a way out of
poverty and starvation.