Olmert stops talk of Pollard at meal

Despite PM's request, Yishai gives Bush 2 letters, one from Esther Pollard, another from Ovadia Yosef.

Pollard 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
Pollard 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert surprised participants at Thursday's working meal of Israeli ministers with US President George W. Bush when he said that it was not the appropriate occasion to discuss the fate of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. The meal was attended by eight ministers, the heads of the Mossad and Shin-Bet security services, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top American officials. Olmert asked Bush to pardon Pollard when he met with the president on Wednesday, but he was turned down. Pollard's wife Esther said she was disappointed that Olmert refrained from discussing her husband, because in Judaism redeeming captives defers any other issue. She said she was not impressed by Olmert raising the issue the day before either. "That's not how a serious quest is made to secure the release of an Israeli agent in peril after 23 years in jail," Pollard said. "It's not something you casually bring up and then leak to the press. It reeks of a feeble attempt to discourage the massive public outcry for Jonathan's release. That's the best possible sign that the effort is succeeding and the Jewish people needs to redouble its efforts and press even harder to bring him home." All the members of the Jerusalem city council signed a letter urging Pollard's release, which was hand delivered to Bush by Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupoliansky on Wednesday. Shas chairman Eli Yishai delivered to Bush a letter from Esther Pollard and another from Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef asking for Pollard's release. The rabbi said that if Bush answered his request affirmatively, he would be blessed with a long life. "One of the most important mitzvot in Judaism is redeeming captives," Yosef wrote. "At this opportune time, I offer my humble request on behalf of the Jews of Zion that Your Excellency release our brother, the prisoner Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a sentence for spying on behalf of the State of Israel. His health is deteriorating."