Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein met on Monday with a group of MKs who will be traveling to Washington DC and New York over the weekend for a series of meetings and events marking Jerusalem Day.
Edelstein presented the MKs with the letter for US President Barack Obama and a petition signed by 106 MKs calling for Pollard`s release. The petition, an initiative of MKs Nachman Shai and Ayelet Shaked, who head the Knesset lobby for Pollard`s release, urges the American president to order Pollard`s immediate release from prison. The members of the Knesset delegation will meet with senior US government officials and ask that they relay the letter to President Obama.
”Pollard has served 29 years in prison for the severe offences he committed. This is a very long period of time for such offences,” the letter reads. ”The conditions have ripened for his release. Over the years, senior officials in previous administrations, both in the security establishment and within the American intelligence community, have expressed their opinion that Pollard should be released. This request has also been presented to Presidents William Jefferson Clinton and George W, Bush. Within the American public, the Jewish community in the United States and, of course, in Israel, there is a broad movement that is calling for Pollard`s release.”
”Mr. President,” the letter says, ”we ask that you give proper consideration to all the requests that have been made to you and order the release of Jonathan Pollard for humanitarian and humane reasons. You have the power to offer him a final chance to end his life as a free man.”
Edelstein told the delegation members that Pollard has ”undoubtedly paid too heavy a price for his mistake,” adding that he hopes the current initiative will lead to Pollard`s release.
”The Americans have already agreed in principle to release Pollard. Now all that is left to discuss is the price,” the Knesset speaker said.
The delegation consists of MKs Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), Yehiel (Hilik) Bar (Israel Labor Party), Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas), Yitzhak Cohen (Shas), Zvulun Kalfa (HaBayit HaYehudi), Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) and Eliezer Stern (Hatenua). The Israeli lawmakers will take part in a festive event at the US Congress and meet with members of Congress, New York City Council members, presidents of the city`s boroughs and leaders of Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The MKs will also speak to university students and visit synagogues.
The delegation will conclude its visit by taking part in New York`s annual Celebrate Israel Parade, which is expected to draw more than 40,000 people. The event will be broadcast live on television and the Internet all across the United States. The Knesset members will lead the procession along with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.