Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard’s wife, Esther, is to meet with President Shimon Peres Sunday morning, ahead of what she said she hopes will be a fateful meeting between Peres and US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
Peres was prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest in 1985. He gave Washington documents with the agent’s fingerprints that incriminated him.
With Peres’s term set to end on July 27, this week’s trip to Washington is the last chance for Peres to persuade Obama to commute Pollard’s life sentence to the 28-and-a-half years he already served.
“President Peres vowed publicly months ago that he would devote the remainder of his time in office to ensuring Jonathan’s release and his return home to Israel,” Esther said Saturday night.
“We are taking him at his word and I am looking forward to meeting with him.”
The first half of the meeting between Peres and Esther is to be private. They are then set to be joined by the heads of the pro-Pollard Knesset caucus, MKs Nachman Shai and Ayelet Shaked.
Esther Pollard wrote Peres seven months ago complaining about a statement he made that she said broke her heart. Speaking at the Ben-Gurion Prize Awards in Tel Aviv, Peres praised the administration in Washington, saying: “There is no Israeli request that President Obama has not responded to [favorably].”
Peres formally requested that Obama commute Pollard’s life sentence in April 2012, ahead of a June ceremony in Washington in which Obama gave Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Obama has not responded to the request.
“Particularly at this time – when my husband is about to enter year 29 in prison – your words, Mr. President, were like a knife in my heart,” she wrote. “How can you dismiss Jonathan as if he does not exist? How can I tell this to Jonathan without devastating him? It would destroy what little is left of his health and morale to hear.”
Esther told Peres that American officials had told her that if he made a serious and unequivocal request for her husband’s release, Obama would respond favorably.
She said that she saw his statements and her husband’s continued incarceration as proof that Peres had not made a serious request.
“Should I tell Jonathan you have now confirmed what we have feared all along – that there never was a serious, compelling request for Jonathan’s release?” she asked. “That the issue really isn’t a priority for you? That you seem to have made it clear that as far as you are concerned, Jonathan is as good as dead, God forbid?”