State Control panel to discuss Pollard affair

Committee will deliberate whether the government has done enough to bring about the Israeli spy's release after 25 years in prison.

Jonathan Pollard 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Jonathan Pollard 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Knesset’s State Control committee will convene on Monday to deliberate on whether the government has done enough to bring about the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, who has served more than 25 years of a life sentence for passing information to an ally.
Committee chairman Yoel Hasson (Kadima) decided to convene the committee after a wave of calls for Pollard’s release and following new revelations of apparent government malfeasance made public by senior officials with first-hand involvement in the case – former minister Rafi Eitan and former US assistant secretary of defense, Lawrence J. Korb.
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Hasson summoned cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser and other officials from the Prime Minister’s Office to the meeting along with representatives from the Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry, and State Comptroller’s Office It was unclear on Wednesday whether Pollard’s wife, Esther, would be asked to testify to the committee about the condition of her husband, who is in poor health and was hospitalized this week.
Opposition MKs intend to use the forum to attack Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for not doing enough to persuade US President Barack Obama to commute Pollard’s sentence to time served.
Netanyahu refused to give Vice President Joe Biden a letter signed by faction heads representing 109 MKs when he met with him last month.
National Union MK Uri Ariel, who heads the Knesset caucus for Pollard, began efforts on Wednesday to draft the support of 40 MKs that is necessary to initiate a special session of the Knesset in which Netanyahu is required to participate.
It could be a challenge for Ariel to obtain enough signatures, because coalition MKs are reluctant to sign petitions that could embarrass the prime minister, and out of the 46 opposition MKs, 11 represent Arab parties. Kadima MKs may decide not to sign the petition because they want the special sessions with Netanyahu to focus on issues they see as more controversial and more problematic for Netanyahu.
The first MKs who signed the petition were the four National Union MKs and Kadima’s Marina Solodkin and Hasson.
Solodkin said she has been a member of the Knesset’s caucus for Pollard for 15 years and that she was willing to march from Jerusalem to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to push for Pollard’s release.
“I wish there was at least as much of an effort for Pollard as there is for Gilad Schalit,” Solodkin said referring to the IDF soldier kidnapped by Hamas in 2006. “I would join every initiative on his behalf. He is an Israeli citizen and a future immigrant, and we must do everything possible Israeli migrating birds end to allow him to come home.”