Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin has sent a letter from the Knesset to U.S. President Barack Obama, Congress, and the U.S. District Attorney, pleading for the release of Jonathan Pollard.
The letter was signed by a leader in every party except for those known as Arab parties, representing a total of 109 out of the 120 Knesset Members.
In dispatching the letter, Rivlin stated that it represents the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public in supporting Pollard’s urgent release. “As Speaker of the Knesset,” he wrote in an introductory note, “I see it as my obligation to bring this letter to your attention.”
The MKs’ missive notes that Pollard has languished in American prison for over 25 years, and that “it’s been some time that American officials have been raising their voices in favor of his release, in light of the lack of proportion between the crime and its punishment… Not a few Congressmen have already joined the call for a commutation of Pollard’s sentence.”
Previous letters of support signed by a similar number of Knesset Members have been left behind in the past by at least two prime ministers – Ariel Sharon and the incumbent, Binyamin Netanyahu – when they flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with the sitting American president.
Event at Knesset
A unique event will be held at the Knesset this Monday at which Netanyahu will be pressured to issue a formal Israeli request for Pollard’s release – and at which Netanyahu himself will speak. Former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb, who has come out publicly in favor of Pollard’s release, will also address the assembly, as will a series of other public figures.
The MKs also mentioned Pollard’s deteriorating health.
“There is no question that 25 years is more than enough in meting out justice to him, and the time has come to release him immediately,” the Knesset Members write. “Please, respond to this request affirmatively. End Pollard’s punishment and let him return to his wife… and live out his remaining days as a free person, after he has most definitely paid his debt to American society.”
The nine party leaders or representatives who signed were: Dalia Itzik (Kadima), Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), Robert Ilatuv (Israel Our Home), Shalom Simchon (Labor), Avraham Michaeli (Shas), Menachem Moses (United Torah Judaism), Yaakov Katz (National Union), Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home), and Ilan Gil’on (Meretz).