Jonathan Pollard red, white and blue.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
United States President Barack Obama could help the nascent negotiations between
Israel and the Palestinians by commuting the life sentence of Israeli agent
Jonathan Pollard, Knesset members on the Left and Right said
Pollard, who is serving his 28th year in prison, has repeatedly
shunned attempts to make him a bargaining chip in prisoner exchanges and
diplomatic processes, especially when murderers were released.
who support his release said freeing him now would not be seen as a trade for
Palestinian terrorists but as a sign of goodwill by the US to the Israeli
“This is the best time in the world to call upon the Americans to
release Pollard as a gesture for the beginning of negotiations, said Labor MK
Nachman Shai, who is the new co-chairman of the Knesset’s Free Pollard Caucus.
“Pollard should be the American gift to Israelis, and they can do
Shai noted that many Israelis feel uncomfortable about the American
pressure to come to the negotiating table. He said that a popular issue like
freeing Pollard would go a long way.
“It’s a window of opportunity for
goodwill to Israelis, who are not going through an easy time,” Shai said. “It
would build up public support for negotiations and show that the US also
understands the gravity of this historic moment.”
Housing Minister Uri Ariel said he found it incredible that America continues to
hold Pollard and did not even let him attend his father’s funeral while US
officials demand that Israel release unrepentant murderers.
going on in the minds of Americans when they insist on keeping Jonathan Pollard
in prison and demand that Israel free terrorists?” Ariel exclaimed on Israel
Radio. “It really is amazing.”
Likud MK Moshe Feiglin went further,
calling America’s behavior shameful and Israel’s an act of betrayal to its
"If launching the negotiations is such an interest to the
Americans, how can it be that we are releasing terrorist murderers, and they are
not releasing our agent who has been sitting in jail for more than 27 years?”
“The shame is on all of us and not just on [Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu] who made the decision. I would never release murderers for
Pollard, but if they think it’s important to free them, how can they forget
Pollard?” Labor MK Avishay Braverman said Pollard should be freed now,
regardless of whether the peace process begins or progresses.
served so much longer than others who committed similar crimes that the time has
come to free him now, without connection to anything – except justice,”