YERUSHALAYIM - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a personal pledge to Mrs. Esther Pollard on Monday that he would again raise the issue of her husband's freedom with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Israel later this month.
Hopes have been mounting that perhaps a concert of lobbying efforts at this historic time could move Obama to finally respond and grant Jonathan Pollard's release.
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 hang on anymore. This is a golden opportunity now that the President of the United States is coming. It's now or never!
Also attending the meeting were Lawrence Korb, former U.S. deputy secretary of defense during the Reagan administration, who has repeatedly called for Pollard's release, as well as Effi Lahav who heads the Committee to Free Jonathan Pollard.
"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 Obama last month, the first time he has spoken out on the issue, to urge him to commute Pollard's sentence who has served almost 10,000 days in jail.
Both Netanyahu and Rabbi Lau, as well as President Shimon Peres, who has also promised to do everything he can to release Pollard, will be on hand for Obama's visit.
"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.