peres smiling 390.
(photo credit: ronit scheinfeld)
President Shimon Peres is examining options for how to present US President
Barack Obama formal requests from the Knesset and himself for Israeli agent
Jonathan Pollard’s freedom, a source close to Peres said Wednesday.
are no plans for Peres to meet face-to-face with Obama, and it was unclear at
press time whether Peres would meet with visiting US Secretary of State John
“The president has a personal request that he wants to transmit to
Obama in the most effective way,” a source close to Peres said.
of the Knesset’s Pollard lobby, MKs Nachman Shai (Labor) and Ayelet Shaked
(Bayit Yehudi), delivered Peres a petition signed by 106 Knesset members. The 11
MKs from Arab parties, who did not sign the petition, have agreed on making
their own call for the release of Pollard along with Arab prisoners.
is both a right and a duty for me to bring before the president the request to
free Pollard, which comes with agreement from across the political spectrum,”
Peres said when he received the petition. “As president, it is my clear
responsibility to voice such a clear consensus, I do it with pride, and see it
as a duty and responsibility. I raised the request to release Pollard on a
number of occasions with President Obama and previous American presidents but I
don’t remember such consensus on any issue, either humanitarian or political,
between political parties.”
Efi Lahav, the head of the Committee for
Pollard, warned Peres that from his visits to Pollard in prison he saw his
“The clock has begun to tick,” Lahav told Peres. “It
might have run out already. I appreciate all you have done and what you are
US administration officials clarified to their Israeli
counterparts that there is “no chance” that Obama would be willing to free
Pollard in return for the release of Israeli-Arab prisoners, Israel Radio
reported on Wednesday.
However, a knowledgeable source who has been
briefed on the discussions with Washington, downplayed the importance of the
White House announcement, claiming that Pollard will not be
“This is simply posturing,” the source said, “to be expected as
part of the process. Pollard is needed as a confidence-building gesture to break
an impasse which the US created, not as a quid pro quo.”
A protest vigil
calling for Pollard’s freedom will be held outside Kerry’s Jerusalem hotel
Thursday evening. The vigil was organized by students from Bar-Ilan and Tel Aviv