Knesset Faction Leaders Call Sharon on Pollard
J4JP Release - June 15, 2003
Immediately after the Aqqaba Summit [4 June] and just days before the terrorist attack on the number 14 bus in Jerusalem [12 June] which left 18 Israelis dead and at least 100 injured, 10 MKs who lead their respective Knesset factions signed a joint letter [7 June, copy below] to Prime Minister Sharon, urging immediate action to seek the release of Jonathan Pollard, and requesting an urgent meeting on the matter.
The MKs pointedly remind Sharon that, "The American President continues to ask Israel to show mercy towards murderers and terrorists; it is only fitting that he should respond positively to Israel's request to free Jonathan Pollard. In so doing he would not only be doing justice, he would also be belatedly fulfilling a commitment made to Israel by the previous American President."
They write, "...A few days ago, at the request of the Americans, Israel freed a number of security prisoners, among them a terrorist serving 3 life sentences, who was responsible for the murder of 14 Israelis." They remind Sharon that while Jonathan did break American law, his actions were for the sake of thwarting the same terrorists that America and Israel are fighting today. They flatly declare, "Whatever Jonathan Pollard did, no matter how serious his actions may have been, they cannot have been worse or more devastating than the random acts of murder and terror perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists."
The MKs' request for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister is all the more compelling in light of the devastating terror attack that subsequently occurred in Jerusalem. There has been no response from the Prime Minister.
The full text of the letter follows below. [Translated from Hebrew.]
Motzei Shabbat 7 Sivan 5763
June 7, 2003
To The Prime Minister, Mr. Ariel Sharon
Mr. Prime Minister:
Re: Action to Free Jonathan Pollard
In 1998 the Government's Legal Counsel established the fact that Jonathan Pollard worked as an Israeli agent and that the Government of Israel accepts full responsibility for him for all that flows from that fact.
Later the same year, the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, promised Jonathan Pollard's release to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. That promise has never been kept, to this very day.
Jonathan Pollard has been languishing for 18 years now in an American prison for unlawful activities which may have been serious according to American law, but which according to numerous sources including legal papers and Congressmen and Senators who received briefings on the matter, did not cause damage or lead to any loss of life whatsoever.
After he was arrested, Jonathan Pollard signed a plea agreement. He admitted his activities and cooperated fully with US investigators. The prosecution committed not to ask the Court for a life sentence. In spite of this commitment, after interference in the judicial process by American intelligence officials, under astonishing circumstances Jonathan Pollard received a life sentence. Ineffective assistance of counsel deprived Pollard of many of his constitutional rights, the most serious of which was that he was deprived of his right to ever appeal his severe sentence. According to the accepted norms of all nations of the free world., his sentence is grossly disproportionate
Mr. Prime Minister, in the past you transferred a written request to the American President George Bush signed by 110 Members of Knesset to free Jonathan Pollard from prison for humanitarian reasons. We ask you to raise this request again, and to add the following three points:
1) Today, with the US leading a great and unrelenting war on terror and on those who aid and abet it, it is possible to arrive at a different appreciation of what Pollard did. (Of course, this is not to belittle the seriousness of his breaking American law.) Pollard acted in order to thwart the aims of terrorist organizations and their supporters, and the regime of Saddam Hussein.
2) After such an exceptionally long period of incarceration, completely disproportionate when compared to any other similar case in the United States, every year that goes by compels taking an new look at the humanitarian issues and asking whether there is any place for mercy and compassion.
3) Following the US request that Israel make a gesture towards the Palestinians and release security prisoners. This request was responded to positively by the Government of Israel. A few days ago, at the request of the Americans, Israel freed a number of security prisoners, among them a terrorist serving 3 life sentences, who was responsible for the murder of 14 Israelis. Whatever Jonathan Pollard did, no matter how serious his actions may have been, they cannot have been worse or more devastating than the random acts of murder and terror perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists.
The American President continues to ask Israel to show mercy towards murderers and terrorists; it is only fitting that he should respond positively to Israel's request to free Jonathan Pollard. In so doing he would not only be doing justice, he would also be belatedly fulfilling a commitment made to Israel by the previous American President.
We would greatly appreciate an urgent meeting with you on this matter.
Respectfully and with blessing,
MK Michael Eitan
MK Eli Yishai
MK Gidon Saar
MK Reshef Chen
MK Yuri Shtern
MK Zahava Galon
MK Shaul Yahalom
MK Yaacov Litzman
MK Amir Peretz