PM Sharon Did Not Give Pollard Petition to Bush

Staff - July 31, 2003 - YNET / Yediot Achronot

The following is J4JP's translation of an article that was a feature story on Yediot Achronot's YNET web site today.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon changed his mind and did not present President Bush with a petition to release Jonathan Pollard, even though he himself signed the petition along with another 111 MKs. Sharon decided at the last minute to leave the petition in Israel. Diplomatic sources: Sharon did not want to hurt the meeting. The petition's initiator M.K. Mickey Eitan: We will have to find out why he did not want to take it. Pollard's wife: Sharon does not want Jonathan to be released.

Was Ariel Sharon afraid during his trip to Washington that he would "anger" President Bush by presenting a petition to free Jonathan Pollard? The petition, which was never delivered to the President, has aroused strong reactions and among them, that of Jonathan Pollard's wife, Esther, who accuses the Prime Minister of deliberate sabotage.

YNET has learned that the PM avoided giving the petition to the President during his trip to Washington, which was signed by 112 Knesset Members, himself included, which calls for the release of Israel's spy. Instead, said MK Eitan, a copy was given to the American Senator, Tom DeLay, (during his visit to the Knesset yesterday).

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said yesterday that in coordination between MK Mickey Eitan and Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, it was decided that the MKs' petition would not be given to Bush during the visit, even though the Prime Minister himself signed it prior to his departure for Washington. According to these officials, the petition will be delivered "at some future opportunity."

The officials claimed that, "It was made clear to Eitan that the issue of Pollard was supposed to be brought up regardless during the Prime Minister's visit with Bush, and that the petition would only lend strength to the subject." Nevertheless, it is not clear whether in fact the issue was brought up at the meeting. A senior official, who was part of the Prime Minister's delegation during the visit, refused to talk about it.

Political officials explained, "The desire to contribute to the success of the meeting on such sensitive issues, like the security fence, caused to a certain extent, the sidelining of other issues; Sharon did not want to hurt the meeting by adding anything more."

In response Esther Pollard, Jonathan Pollard's wife, told YNET, "We are shocked but not surprised. This is consistent with the behavior of Arik Sharon towards Jonathan ever since he first took office. He has no interest in seeing Jonathan released." Pollard says that if Sharon had come to Bush with the support and signatures of the 112 Knesset Members, Bush would not have refused him. "It speaks volumes that Sharon insisted on signing the petition before he left, and his office also promised to get Silvan Shalom's signature; and then he decides to leave the petition at home."

According to Pollard, "The Prime Minister promised the nation that he will not free criminals with blood on their hands; as long as he fails to act on behalf of an agent in peril, he himself has blood on his hands - Jonathan's!

Meanwhile MK Eitan, head of the Knesset Lobby to Free Pollard and one of the initiators of the petition, confirmed that he had been informed that the petition would not be taken to President Bush. According to Eitan, after the Prime Minister returns from his trip, an investigation should be undertaken to discover why the petition was not taken to the U.S.

Last night speaking at the Knesset, the Senate Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, promised to deliver the petition to Bush, then in the same breath in response to a question, expressed his strong opposition to Pollard's release.

Previously A Similar Petition was Given to a Low Level Clerk in Rice's Office

Adi Ginzburg, an activist in the struggle to free Jonathan Pollard, today told WYNET that he is astonished at why Sharon did not deliver the petition. "After all, Sharon himself signed it and then he refuses to deliver it? Probably he either doesn't really care about releasing Jonathan or he is simply afraid of (how he might appear in) the news headlines once Jonathan is out."

According to Ginzberg, a similar petition signed by 110 Knesset Members (which Sharon promised to deliver to the President) was instead given to a low level clerk in Condoleezza Rice's office. "We are talking about a critical document, which the prime minister simply did not want to deal with. He clearly does not want to press Bush. When he handed the petition over to a low level clerk instead of to the President the message was clear: the subject - Pollard - is not important.

Members of the activist movement to free Jonathan Pollard are planning to hold a protest march and demonstration next week. Participants will march from the American Consulate to the Knesset where a mass demonstration will take place.

Justice for Jonathan Pollard Adds:

The Protest March and Demonstration is planned for Tuesday afternoon, August 5, to coincide with Jonathan's 49th birthday (on Tisha B'Av). Details to follow in a J4JP Release.