YNET: 4 Dems urge Obama to pardon Pollard
Congress members from US president's party initiate letter calling for Israeli spy's release after 25 years in prison, say grant of clemency will help advance peace process
Sharon Roffe-Ofir - YNET - September 24, 2010
Four Democratic Congress members are urging US President Obama to pardon Jonathan Pollard, noting "the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel" as a means of advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The letter, published on the JTA website, comes not so long after US Vice President Joe Biden and other senior administration officials said it was time to release the Israeli spy - 25 years after he was arrested and jailed.
The letter was initiated by Representatives Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Edolphus Towns (D-NY), Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) "notes the positive impact that a grant of clemency would have in Israel," said a statement issued Thursday by Frank's office.
A grant of clemency "would serve as a strong indication of the goodwill of our nation towards Israel and the Israeli people," said a statement issued Thursday by Frank's office. "This would be particularly helpful at a time when the Israeli nation faces difficult decisions in its long-standing effort to secure peace with its neighbors."
According to Frank's statement, the letter will not challenge Pollard's guilt, but will argue that his is not commensurate with those handed down to spies who have committed similar offenses. It will be delivered to President Obama in about a month, after being signed by other Congress members.
The Justice for Jonathan Pollard organization welcomed the initiative, telling Ynet that "this letter joins the calls of other senior administration and security officials in the US, and we hope this move will create a momentum and lead to Jonathan's release home."
Several days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to respond to a question about whether Pollard's release was conditioned upon extending the settlement construction freeze.
"We are aiming to secure his release, regardless of the freeze," he said. "There is no need for a special event to bring up the Pollard issue."