Two weeks before US President Barack Obama visits Israel, and amid some hope
Obama might free imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard as a goodwill gesture,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Pollard’s wife Esther on
“The time has long since come for Jonathan to go free,” Netanyahu
said at the outset of the meeting.
“This issue will come up during
President Obama’s visit. It has already been raised countless times by myself
and others, and the time has come for him to go free,” he said.
Pollard echoed Netanyahu’s words, saying “Jonathan can’t anymore. This is a
golden opportunity now that the president of the United States is coming. If not
now, when?” Pollard’s wife was joined in her meeting with Netanyahu by Lawrence
Korb, who was US deputy secretary of defense during the Reagan administration in
1985 when Pollard was arrested, and is currently a senior fellow at the liberal
Center for American Progress think tank, which is considered close to the Obama
Also attending was Effie Lahav, who heads the Committee
to Free Jonathan Pollard.
“I feel a personal obligation to take action to
end the Pollard episode,” Korb said Friday, upon arriving on a visit to assist
efforts to free Pollard.
“It is a tragedy that bothers me as an American.
Pollard broke the law and needed to pay a price. But the lack of proportion in
his punishment goes against the values I believe in as an American,” he
One government official warned against interpreting Netanyahu’s
meeting with Esther Pollard as a signal that something is imminently afoot
regarding her husband’s release. He said that the meeting was a reflection of
the prime minister’s concern about the issue and a desire to show where he
stands on the matter.
The meeting was not an attempt to neutralize
protests on Pollard’s behalf during the Obama visit, as it was unlikely this
meeting would have any impact on those who want to demonstrate, added the