Peres: I'll do 'everything possible' to free Pollard
"I will talk [to Obama] man to man and do everything possible to bring him home," president tells bereaved families.
Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - June 5, 2012
President Shimon Peres told a group of bereaved families on Tuesday that he would do "everything possible" to try to obtain the release of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard and enable him to come to Israel.
Pollard has served nearly 27 years of his life sentence for passing classified information to an ally. The bereaved families joined efforts to pressure Peres to use the Presidential Medal of Freedom he will receive from US President Barack Obama at a special ceremony in Washington next week to bring about Pollard's freedom.
"Pollard's release is an important goal of mine after the 27 years he has served in prison," Peres told the families in an emotional meeting at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. "I will do my part as a messenger for the ultimate humane cause. I will talk [to Obama] man to man and do everything possible to bring him home."
Peres noted that Pollard was "fighting for his life" and suffering from multiple ailments. He said he also saw Pollard's release as a matter of justice.
The bereaved families told Peres that because they had all lost loved ones, they saw it as especially important for them to try to save Pollard's life.
"We will always live with our tragedy no matter how many years have passed," said Esther Wachsman, whose son Nachshon was kidnapped and murdered in 1994. "When Peres gets the medal of freedom it provides him a platform to speak on behalf of Jonathan's freedom. My hope and prayer is that he comes home on a plane with Jonathan. That would be a dream come true."
The bereaved families included Israelis on the Right and Left who supported and opposed the October prisoner exchange that brought home kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. Wachsman supported the deal, even though her son's murderer was released.
Ruhama Raz, whose sister was killed in a 1989 attack on a bus from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, expressed confidence that Peres could bring Pollard home.
"We are putting all our hopes in the power our president has and his image internationally," Raz said. "The medal he will receive should come together with another achievement."
Peres said he was touched by the effort of the bereaved families. He promised to relay both their message and their emotions to Obama.
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