Netanyahu, Korb to speak at pro-Pollard rally

Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - December 14, 2010

Event intended to pressure PM to formally call for the release of Israeli agent from an American prison.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to be the featured speaker on Monday at an event at the Knesset that is intended to pressure him to formally call for the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard from an American prison.

The event will also be addressed by former US deputy defense secretary Lawrence Korb, who served under Caspar Weinberger at the time of Pollard's arrest and caused the momentum that there has been over the past two months encouraging US President Barack Obama to commute Pollard's life sentence for passing classified information to an ally to the 25 years he has already served.

"The goal is to make the people who can take action do something," said Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh, who initiated the rally along with national Union MK Uri Ariel. "The prime minister agreeing to come is an important step. He really wants it known that he really is acting on Pollard's behalf. We hope he will say what he is doing to bring Jonathan home."

Ministers, MKs, IDF security officials, and cultural figures will speak at the event in order to demonstrate that there is wide mainstream support for releasing Pollard. Retired judge Zvi Tal will present the legal side of why Pollard must be released for justice to be served.

"We want Netanyahu to be aware of the entire picture," Tirosh said. "I hope he will take the facts presented at the rally to the American administration and based on this, tell Obama that he should no longer be holding Pollard in jail."

Officials involved in the effort to get Pollard released expressed hope that a formal call for clemency from Netanyahu at the event would set a process in motion that would result in the agent's release to Israel.

Interior Minister Eli Yishai made a public statement about Pollard for the first time on Tuesday when he said he was praying that Pollard would be allowed to return home.

Pollard's wife Esther received an award on her husband's behalf Monday at a conference of the Association of Mayors of Israel and the Association of Deputy Mayors of Israel.

The award, presented by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat says: "In honor and in appreciation of Jonathan Pollard for his devotion to the People of Israel. We love him and hold him dear to our hearts, as we call for his immediate release from prison."

Pollard's wife Esther said that she and Jonathan were delighted that Netanyahu was planning to attend the rally that she called "historically unprecedented."

"This is the perfect forum for the prime minister to publicly reveal a copy of the letter that his ambassador in Washington is presenting concurrently to the White House on his behalf, formally requesting the release of Jonathan Pollard," she said.

"We firmly believe that a formal request from the Prime Minister, after 25 years in prison for his activities on behalf of the State of Israel, would have a dramatic impact and would surely expedite the efforts of senior American officials to gain the release of Jonathan Pollard."

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