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
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.