PM: Israel will ask US to free Pollard for father's funeral

MKs express contrasting views on Pollard; Tibi: Calls for Pollard release are 'typical Israeli hypocrisy'; Tirosh says she will boycott July 4th party.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
June 19, 2011 12:11
2 minute read.
Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting, Sunday.

netanyahu cabinet meeting_311 reuters. (photo credit: Ronen Zvulun / Reuters)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday said that in the coming days a diplomatic request will be submitted to the US for the release of imprisoned Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard so that he can attend his father's funeral.

Netanyahu made the comments at a meeting with Likud ministers after Pollard's father, Morris, died Saturday morning at age 95 at Memorial Hospital and Health System in South Bend, Indiana.

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The imprisoned agent's family, American Jewish leaders and Knesset members had been lobbying for Jonathan to be granted what is called "compassionate leave" for 24 hours to allow him to see his father before he died.

Earlier Sunday, MKs expressed split attitudes toward calls for Pollard's release.

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List - Ta'al) said Israeli opposition to the US government's decision not to allowPollard to see his father before he passed away are "typical Israeli hypocrisy."

"Israel consistently denies Palestinian prisoners from attending the funerals of their parents," Tibi told Israel Radio.

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"What would you say to the Americans if they told you that they have decided to behave in the same manner that you are behaving with Palestinian prisoners?" Tibi questioned Israeli politicians in his interview.

Tibi's comments came after MK Ronit Tirosh (Kadima) told Army Radio she will boycott the American Independence Day party at the ambassador's house in protest of the US refusal to release Pollard before his father's death.

MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), who was among 75 MKs to sign a petition last week calling on US Vice President Joe Biden to take action on the issue, also spoke to Army Radio, saying: "Why is [the US] so insistent on keeping [Pollard]? Why can't they release him for 24 hours? He won't do anything, he won't run away."

Shai also noted that, in addition to the Israeli government communicating clear messages to the US about Pollard's release, the Jewish community in the US should also put pressure on Washington.

"Five million Jews live in the US and they are silent. A clear statement needs to come from them. With all due respect, after 25 years, they can say something. They are able to put a lot of pressure on the White House. It is time for them to do it."

"Millions of Israelis want to see Pollard return home," Shai added.

A demonstration outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv demanding freedom for Pollard was scheduled for Sunday evening. Several MKs were expected to speak at the event.

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