Meaningless "Victory" For Knesset in Pollard Session
Justice4JP Release - September 8, 2004
The Knesset reconvened yesterday in a special session to discuss the urgent issue of Jonathan Pollard . The session ended with a moral victory for the MKs and no practical results for Jonathan Pollard.
Minister Meir Shetrit was appointed by Prime Minister Sharon to respond for the Government. Shetrit spoke assuring MKs that the Government is doing its "utmost" for Pollard. He warned the MKs that the Government is strongly opposed to a full discussion of the Pollard case in an open session of Knesset. In the name of the Government Shetrit strongly urged that the Pollard case be kept quiet by remanding it once again to the Defense and Intelligence Committee.
J4JP notes that this has been the tactic of the Government since Prime Minister Sharon first took office. All attempts to discuss Pollard in the Knesset Plenum have routinely been cut short and remanded to Committee where all discussion (if any indeed takes place) is classified. Thus the Government continues to keep the Pollard issue buried.
The MKs were not appeased by Shetrit's claims that the Government continues to work assiduously for the release of Pollard and prefers to do so quietly. One MK told J4JP: the Government simply wants to do nothing for Pollard and to do it quietly. In a show of strength, the MKs rejected the Government's recommendation to refer the case to Committee. They voted unanimously to hold an open discussion on the case in a full session of the Knesset Plenum when the Knesset reconvenes after the summer recess. The vote was in essence a vote of non-confidence in the Government's alleged "efforts" on behalf of Pollard.
Hearing about how the MKs won a "victory" over the Government by voting in favor of an open discussion about his case in Knesset later on in the year, Jonathan Pollard responded that he was stunned. "After nearly 20 years, the Knesset reconvened in an emergency session - one week before Rosh HaShana - to fight for me, and the best that they could do was to vote to discuss the case again some other time??? I am frankly stunned by the shallowness of their victory."
Prior to the Knesset session, Esther and Jonathan Pollard sent personal messages to the MKs via Tzvi Hendel, the initiator of this session, urging that practical steps be taken to secure Jonathan's release in time for the upcoming High Holidays. They warned that if this emergency session degenerated into nothing more than a discussion to hold another discussion, it would be very counterproductive.
The Pollards reminded the MKs that their historic petition signed by 112 Members of Knesset has yet to be delivered to President Bush and that now would be a most significant time to do so. They related that His honor, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu had agreed to accompany a Knesset delegation to Washington at once so that the request for Jonathan's release in time for Rosh HaShana could be made as a religious gesture and not be politicized. The MKs did not even address this suggestion. Their emergency session contained no reference to any practical steps to be taken.
Larry Dub, Pollard's attorney commented on the "shabby performance" of the MKs. Said Dub,
"Frankly, I was skeptical from the outset. We expended enormous efforts trying to enlist the help of MK Tzvi Hendel when he was the Deputy Minister of Education. We did everything in our power to get his support on including Jonathan in the school curriculum, even if only for a one shot, one day, special Pollard Day teach-in. But as long as he was a Minister, Hendel just ducked the Pollard issue, and really did nothing to help. Now he is just an MK and suddenly he decides to gather signatures to convene an emergency session of Knesset? Is it any wonder that I was skeptical? Or that this emergency session of Knesset produced no results? Yes, the MKs clearly showed no confidence in the Government's treatment of Pollard, but then chose to do nothing about it. What kind of victory is that?"
An MK spoke with J4JP after the session on condition of anonymity. He blamed his Knesset colleagues for their weak showing on behalf of Pollard. He said that the Knesset should have been packed in full attendance and it wasn't. He said: "Considering the urgency of the issue - the man has been in prison for nearly 20 years; and the timing - one week before Rosh HaShana - I and my colleagues failed miserably. We failed not only by our really poor attendance, but by our lack of resolve to actually do something for Pollard this time."
See Also: Pollard Supporters Oppose "Burial" Of Issue