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.

Herb Keinon - The Jerusalem Post - March 4, 2013

Two weeks before US President Obama visits Israel, and amid hope by some that Obama might free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with his wife Esther on Monday.

At the start of the meeting, Netanyahu said, "The time has long since come for Jonathan to go free. 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."

Esther Pollard said, "Jonathan can't anymore. This is a golden opportunity now that the President of the United States is coming. It's now or never!"

Both present at today's meeting were Lawrence Korb, former US deputy secretary of defense during the Reagan administration as well as Effi Lahav who heads the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard

Korb is part of the American Progress think tank that is considered close to the administration of the US President. "I feel a personal obligation to take action to end the Pollard episode," Korb said on Friday. "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."

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau wrote to the US President last month, urging him to commute Pollard's sentence who has served 27 years in jail.

Lau asked for Pollard's freedom in a letter full of biblical quotations and references to former US President Abraham Lincoln, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and the Statue of Liberty. The rabbi warned of Pollard's deteriorating health and pleaded with Obama to release the Israeli agent before he died in prison.

President Shimon Peres also weighed in on the subject and said last month that he will raise the issue of releasing Pollard on humanitarian grounds when he meets with Obama.

"I will do everything in my power to convey a clear message that Jonathan Pollard must have his sentence commuted on humanitarian grounds, just as I, as president, act to commute sentences on humanitarian grounds," Peres said.

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