Peres to meet Esther Pollard ahead of final US visit

President set to raise issue of Jonathan Pollard's release as he receives Congressional medal, meets Obama

Times of Israel staff and Marissa Newman - June 20, 2014

President Shimon Peres will meet with Esther Pollard, wife of jailed American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, on Sunday ahead of his last trip to the United States as president.

Peres is due to receive a medal from Congress, and to meet US President Barack Obama.

The meeting with Esther Pollard, slated for Sunday at 10:45 a.m., will include MKs Nachman Shai (Labor) and Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), chairs of the Knesset Caucus to Free Jonathan Pollard.

The President's residence did not say whether Peres would deliver a specific message about Pollard to Obama or the US Congress.

The US trip is Peres's last as Israel's president. He is due to leave the post on July 27.

Pollard's release has emerged as a mainstream Israeli political concern in recent years.

In May, a delegation of MKs headed to the US were handed a letter from Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein containing an appeal to release Pollard, and were instructed to pass it on to US President Barack Obama.

The letter was accompanied by a petition signed by 106 of the 120 Knesset members.

"There is no dispute that Pollard paid too heavy a price for his mistake," Edelstein said at the time of the spy's lifetime prison sentence for passing US military secrets to Israel.

"I hope that the present process will contribute to his release. We are at a moment of opportunity, in which the Americans agreed to the principle of [his] release [in the framework of the now-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks], and now we are simply discussing the price."

The Knesset members, including Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), Hilik Bar (Labor), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid), Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), Zvulun Kalfa (Jewish Home) and Elazar Stern (Hatnua), raised the issue with US officials, Jewish leaders and members of Congress.

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