PM vows to raise Pollard case during Obama visit

Esther Pollard says Obama's visit to Israel later this month is a "golden opportunity" for her husband's release.

Netanyahu meets imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s wi (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
Netanyahu meets imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard’s wi
(photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)
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 Monday.
“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.
Esther 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 administration.
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 said.
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 official.