Gil Hoffman - The Jerusalem Post - February 18, 2013
Pollard's wife, Esther, came to the Knesset to visit Lapid to ask him for his help in persuading US President Barack Obama to commute the life sentence of her husband, who has been in US federal prison for more than 27 years. While she was there, Jonathan coincidentally called his wife, and she handed the phone to Lapid. Related:
"I am touched that you care so much about Israel even after so many years suffering in prison," Lapid told Pollard on the phone. "I want you to know that you have a strong advocate in me. I intend to work like crazy for your release starting now. I will enlist my entire faction and use whatever power I have. I will not be deterred."
Lapid recounted his conversations with the Pollards to MKs and reporters at the start of his faction meeting at the Knesset.
"I was in tears," Lapid said. "He is in poor shape. He is desperate and broken.
We will do everything we can to help him."
Esther said Lapid spoke passionately about her husband during their meeting.
She stressed that the timing of the call was coincidental and could not have been prearranged due to the restrictions on her husband's telephone usage in prison.
"I was impressed by how touched he was by the call," she said. "He was quite shaken by speaking to him."
Likud MK Danny Danon met with Jewish leaders at the Knesset on Monday and urged them to do everything possible to bring about Pollard's release.
More than 37,000 people have signed a petition asking Obama to release Pollard ahead of his visit next month, since the petition was published February 6.
"We appeal to you as one who symbolizes the shared values of humanity, compassion and hope for a second chance, that both of our nations embrace," the petition states. "We implore you to commute Jonathan Pollard's sentence to time served without delay and allow him to live out his remaining days as a free man.
"It is our fervent hope and prayer that your upcoming trip to Israel will bring us the good news we have waited for, for so very long, and that this tragic and painful episode can finally be put to rest once and for all."
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