MK's Set Up Caucus For Pollard

December 25, 1997 - Liat Collins - The Jerusalem Post

Quiet diplomacy has failed to gain convicted spy Jonathan Pollard's release, so the time has come for open and intensive activity instead, said MK Ophir Pines (Labor) yesterday when he inaugurated the Knesset Caucus for Pollard. The new lobby received a sizeable turnout of ministers and MKs, including Communications Minister Limor Livnat and Immigration and Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein, who both recently met with Pollard in jail, MKs Yona Yahav, Elie Goldschmidt (both Labor), Gideon Ezra (Likud), Knesset Law Committee Chairman Shaul Yahalom (National Religious Party), Moledet leader Rehavam Ze'evi, Avraham Herschson (Likud) and Marina Solodkin (Yisrael Ba'aliya). Pollard's lawyer Larry Dub was also present.

Pines said the current government is the first to recognize Pollard and said he hopes US President Bill Clinton will pardon Pollard in honor of the jubilee. Livnat said Pollard had asked that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Ehud Barak draw up a joint request to Clinton for his pardon.

Livnat said a number of US senators and congressmen had stopped their activities for Pollard following reports that the Foreign Ministry has reservations about open actions calling for his release. She said Pollard had also asked that the Defense Ministry publish an official announcement that he was employed by the state, not via the Mossad or General Security Service. Livnat added that Israel must exploit the current momentum for his release.

Edelstein said hundreds of people had asked to help Pollard. He suggested the lobby ask the chief rabbis to include Pollard's name in the prayer for MIAs and PoWs, a practice Edelstein said exists in his synagogue. Ze'evi said that while most of those convicted of espionage in the US in recent years had been released after three to four years, Pollard is still in prison after 12 years. He said this is because the US intelligence community and Justice Department are putting pressure against his release, and neither the Jewish community nor the Israeli government is counteracting this.

Ezra said the matter should be raised at the World Jewish Congress. It was concluded that the caucus would support open diplomatic activity for Pollard's release as a humanitarian gesture and act on his behalf in AIPAC and the American Jewish Congress, as well as mobilizing the support of youth movements for his cause.