MKs Ophir Pines (Labor), Michael Eitan (Likud), and Sha'ul Yahalom (NRP) submitted a request for a Knesset discussion regarding a recent US court's decision to deny Pollard a re-sentencing trial. Ophir Pines addressed the Knesset on behalf of the group:
"I am sorry that we have to be here this evening to speak about the decision of the American court which means that Jonathan's appeal has been dismissed in every respect. He cannot see the secret documents; he cannot have his day in court; he cannot go for re-sentencing; nothing at all!
"We are not overly surprised. The US attitude towards Jonathan Pollard is vindictive in the extreme, very stubborn, very harsh and very inflexible, and the way I see it, very cruel. In the end, Jonathan Pollard has been languishing in an American prison for 18 years. The man is condemned to serve a life sentence on a single charge of espionage [with no intent to harm the US] while at the same time, the spies who really spied against the United States and handed over damaging and extremely sensitive classified information to enemy states have long, long since ceased to serve time in American prisons.
"The United States has taken a reckoning with Jonathan Pollard, and through him with all of us, because Jonathan provided the State of Israel with vital security information - information, which as far as we know, did not do any damage to American security, and that is the important point. But America the Great was insulted, and I can understand that, but what is the price of the insult, a life sentence?
"When Jonathan was held in Washington recently, when they took him for his court appearance, he was held in harsh and inhumane conditions. I received letters documenting the harsh treatment he endured. He was cut off from all contact with his wife and friends on the outside; he was held in what I regard as inhumane conditions, and treated very harshly. Why? For what reason? The man is serving his time, at least let him appeal his American sentence; where it is possible to appeal, at least let him have his day in court!
"The State of Israel has to step forward and engage [on behalf of Pollard], I say, especially the Government of Israel - past governments have failed to engage on this matter. I believe that Ariel Sharon now has the opportunity to something, something truly great. Out of all of the Prime Ministers of Israel, the only Prime Minister until now - I must admit - who ever really put Jonathan's release properly on the agenda for negotiation was Binyamin Netanyahu. As for all the rest, to the best of my knowledge, if they did anything at all for Jonathan, it was too little, too late, in an unconvincing way and without conviction. I want to express hope. First of all, I want this Knesset to boost Jonathan' s morale - to strengthen his morale - the man, of course, cannot be in a good way now - and by the way, his health is very poor as well - I want this Knesset to appeal to the Government of United States and to ask it to spare the life of Jonathan Pollard, to pardon him on a humanitarian basis, and to send him here, so that he can come home and make aliyah (immigrate) to Israel. Jonathan may have committed a sin, perhaps a terrible sin, but he has paid a terrible price and he is still paying.
"I sincerely hope that the gates of mercy and human decency in the United States may open for Jonathan Pollard and that the appeal and outcry of this Knesset will be heard in the right places."
This past Tuesday, Jonathan himself wrote an angry letter addressed to Israel's Cabinet Secretary Israel Maimon. 120403.htm In his letter, Pollard strongly refutes any Israeli government claims that he was being helped, financially or otherwise, by the State of Israel.
"Recently Esther and I have received reports from certain Israeli officials that you have reassured them that their concern for me and my wife is unfounded, that my wife and I are receiving money from the Government of Israel, and that my American attorneys, Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, are being paid by the Government of Israel...
"As you well know, I have not received a cent from the Government of Israel, neither has my wife, nor any of my attorneys. Not now, not in the past, not ever. For you to claim otherwise is nothing but a lie.
"As I begin my 19th year in prison on behalf of the State of Israel, I have earned the right to demand that the Prime Minister live up to his obligation to secure my immediate release - in full accord with previous commitments by the United States, which Mr. Sharon himself witnessed - to bring me home at once, in time to light the Chanukah candles of freedom, this month, at home in Jerusalem!"
Grassroots action on Pollard's behalf has spiked sharply over the past year, with the founding of several organizations dedicated to winning his release. A rally at which thousands protested American Jewish leadership's failure to demand Pollard's release took place outside the recent United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Jerusalem. During his address, PM Sharon was repeatedly interrupted by Pollard activists, some of whom were then beaten by North American GA delegates.
At another demonstration, outside the weekly cabinet meeting, the group "Youth for Pollard" declared that they would step up activity on Pollard's behalf to protest the 19th anniversary of his imprisonment.