President Shimon Peres intends to get in touch with US President Barack
Obama on Monday to discuss the fate of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard,
following an emotional meeting Sunday with Pollard’s wife, Esther.
of the meeting, it appeared that Peres would wait to discuss the
Pollard case with Obama until June 13, when he goes to Washington to
receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom. But by the end of the meeting,
he promised to issue a formal request for Pollard's release by Monday, in light of his deteriorating health.
“His response was unequivocal that he would
put his international reputation on the line and use every means at his
disposal,” Esther Pollard said. “He told me he would discuss how to
proceed with his advisers because [he said] he must succeed this time.”
by the heads of the Knesset Caucus for Pollard – MKs Uri Ariel
(National Union) and Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) – Esther read Peres a letter
to the president she had written in advance of the meeting.
“I am the wife of Jonathan Pollard,” she said, with a trembling voice.
“I am appealing to you because I do not want to be the widow of Jonathan Pollard.”
is not allowed to receive visitors except the hospital chaplain. The
chaplain had been concerned about Pollard obtaining kosher for Passover
food but he is being fed intravenously so it is not relevant.
Esther Pollard told Peres that she lives in daily terror that the phone will ring and inform her of yet another medical crisis.
every medical crisis he survives, it is just a matter of time before
the next one occurs,” she said. “Jonathan is still in the hospital,
struggling to overcome the current medical crisis. The issue right now
is to stabilize his condition. It is critical that when that occurs, he
should not be sent back to prison. Sending him back to prison is a death
Pollard‘s long list of ailments include: diabetes,
nausea, dizziness, blackouts and ongoing issues with his gall bladder,
kidneys, sinuses, eyes and feet. He also suffers from Meniere’s disease,
which causes him to lose consciousness and fall without warning. But a
source close to Pollard said his hospitalization was not connected to
any of his past ailments.
Esther also emphasized the injustice of
her husband’s life sentence, quoting former senior American officials
who have called upon Obama to commute his sentence to the 26.5 years he
has already served. She cited former secretaries of state Henry
Kissinger and George Schultz and former CIA head James Woolsey.
told her that he can imagine the agony that she is currently
undergoing. He said that at this stage it was important to focus on the
humanitarian aspect of the Pollard case.
Esther said no other
Israeli has as much influence and respect in Washington as Peres. She
said that she had no doubt that he was “very sympathetic and very
committed to doing whatever he can as quickly as possible.”
to meeting with Esther, Peres met with Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef
and the two chief rabbis, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar. Peres had
ostensibly visited the rabbis to wish them well on the Passover holiday,
but in each case the conversation turned to Pollard, and in each case
the rabbis asked Peres to do his utmost to enable Pollard to go free.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also released a statement Sunday expressing hope that Pollard would soon be free.