Yishai, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef urge Obama to free Pollard

Interior minister gives letter asking for agent's release to US ambassador at 4th of July event in Herzliya; PM, Peres thank US for support of Israel.

June 30, 2011 22:27
2 minute read.
Jonathan Pollard before he was arrested.

jonathan pollard_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)

Interior Minister Eli Yishai delivered a message from Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef to US ambassador James Cunningham on Thursday, urging him to persuade US president Barack Obama to commute the life sentence of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

The rabbi wrote the president that Pollard's case was one of Pikuach Nefesh (saving a life) and that he should release him as a "humanitarian gesture."

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Yishai delivered the message at a party at Cunningham's residence held in honor of US Independence Day. While some MKs boycotted the event to protest Pollard not being allowed to attend his father's funeral, there were no provocations on Pollard's behalf from anyone who did attend.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the US Independence day event in Herzliya, thanking the United States for its "diplomatic, moral and military support" of Israel over the years.

Netanyahu praised Obama for his continued insistence that negotiations are the only way to bring about peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The event was attended by 2,200 guests, including MKs, military figures, local and international senior academics, Cunningham and President Shimon Peres.

Peres said that "America is the most "indispensable" nation for Israel. He also thanked Obama for "his ongoing commitment to the peace and security of our land."

The president and the prime minister both thanked Cunningham for his service as US ambassador to Israel.

"I will be leaving my position soon after three years," said Cunningham. "You have welcomed us, we thank you," he added.

Cunningham spoke of the strong bond between the US and Israel, saying Americans "have a clear understanding of Israel's security needs."

The ambassador said that Obama "has made clear that he stands beside Israel and will continue to do so in these challenging times."

Cunningham said that the status quo in the Middle East is unsustainable and renewed negotiations were needed to secure peace in the region. He added, however, that "no country can be expected to make peace with a terrorist organization that calls for its destruction."

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