By Aryeh Savir
Tazpit News Agency
JERUSALEM – A new petition has been launched demanding the release of incarcerated Israeli Jonathan Pollard.
President Shimon Peres has departed for a special visit to the US as part of the celebrations marking the end of his presidency. Peres is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama at the White House on June 13th, during which Peres will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Signed by ‘the Citizens of Israel’, a petition has been launched requesting the Peres take this opportunity and devote his final presidential visit to US to release Jonathan Pollard.
“We the Citizens of Israel appreciate your efforts to secure the release of Jonathan Pollard and feel that they have been a significant factor in the decision of President Obama that it is now possible to free Pollard. At this time, when the diplomatic process is not on the agenda, we ask that you become our advocate and that you bring to bear the full weight of your influence in the U.S. so that justice and compassion may prevail and Jonathan will be released without any further delay,” the petition reads.
“Mr. President, we appreciate your declaration made last December that you intend to devote the rest of your time in office to securing the release of Jonathan Pollard, who has served nearly 29 years in an American prison for his service on behalf of the State of Israel. For this reason, we ask that you devote your upcoming trip to the United States to securing his release.”
“Over the last while we have heard the appeals of dozens of senior U.S. officials calling for Pollard’s release because his sentence is grossly disproportionate and because his health is failing. We, as Israeli Citizens, are obliged do everything in our power to seek his release not only for these reasons, but also because of the responsibility we have towards one who is imperiled as result of his actions while in the service of the Government of Israel.”
The petition goes on to point out that Pollard served many times longer in prison than any other person accused of a similar offense, and that he is the only person in US history to receive a life sentence for spying on behalf of an ally. “His failing health compels working for his immediate release not only as a matter of justice, but also as a humanitarian life-saving issue,” the petition states.
Relating to Peres’ reception of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the petition declares: “We believe that there would be nothing more noble and just, than to use this unique opportunity to save a life.”
The petitioners finally request: “Mr. President, We the Citizens of Israel, therefore implore you to be our advocate and to dedicate this upcoming visit to the United States to do everything in your power – both privately with President Obama and publicly – in order to secure the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard and finally bring to an end this terrible tragedy which continues to be a gaping wound in the heart of all of Israel.”
Over 24,600 have signed the petition, and the organizers hope for at least 30,000 signatures.
Relating to a similar petition launched in January, Peres stated: “”It is both a right and a duty for me to bring before the President of the United States of America the request to free Jonathan Pollard which comes with agreement from across the political spectrum. As president it is my clear responsibility to voice such clear consensus, I do it with pride and see it as a duty and responsibility. I raised the request to release Jonathan Pollard on a number of occasions with the President Obama and previous American presidents but I don’t remember such consensus on any issue either humanitarian or political between political parties. I will pass this petition on to President Obama.”