Tuesday, January 4, 2011

PM Netanyahu sends Letter to Obama: Pardon Pollard, Israel will be grateful to you forever

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday sent a letter to US President Barack Obama in which he asked for the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, citing humanitarian reasons.

Netanyahu addressed the Knesset plenum Tuesday in a debate titled "The failure of the Netanyahu administration in the political, financial and social realms."

In his speech, Netanyahu detailed the efforts that have been made along the years to free Pollard. He noted that he received a letter from Pollard two weeks ago pleading him to publicly approach the US president and ask for his release.

"After 25 years that Jonathan has spent in jail and after 15 years of failed efforts to release him I have decided to grant this request and I do this openly, here, from the Knesset podium in a step that represents and unites all the people of Israel."
Netanyahu read out the letter before the Knesset:
"Although Israel did not direct its intelligence efforts against the US it operated incorrectly. Both Pollard and Israel expressed regret following these actions," he wrote.

"Pollard has served a longer sentence than anyone else who has carried out similar acts".

"He has paid a heavy price for his actions and is in a serious health condition. I ask you to positively assess this pardon request positively."
After Netanyahu announced he would send a letter to Obama, US State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley responded by saying any foreign leader has a right to make such a request, and declined to comment further.

“If such a request were formally made, there’s obviously a legal process that would be undertaken to evaluate it,The US understands this is an important issue in Israel".
Crowley added that Netanyahu had already raised the issue of Pollard's release with US authorities on several occasions privately.