MKs urge Romney to support clemency for Jonathan Pollard
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office delivered a letter from Knesset faction heads to presumptive Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney Monday, urging him to support clemency for Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
The letter was signed by the heads of every non-Arab Knesset faction from Meretz to the National Union, representing 109 MKs. A similar letter was delivered to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton two weeks ago.
"We, the heads of the Knesset factions, the elected representatives of the citizens of Israel, want to bring a deeply painful issue to your attention, the plight of Jonathan Pollard," the MKs wrote. "It is not disputed that Jonathan Pollard broke the law and he deserved to be punished. Nevertheless, the citizens of Israel are united in their request for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds. He has served nearly 27 years in prison and his health has deteriorated to a point that is life-threatening."
The letter pointed out that Pollard is the only person in the history of the United States to receive a life sentence for spying for an American ally. It noted that the maximum punishment ever meted out for the offense was 14 years.
"The citizens of Israel have great difficulty in accepting this fact, especially in light of the special, warm relationship between our countries," the MKs wrote. "Many Israelis have verbalized their concern thus: ‘How can it be that Pollard serves the same sentence that is meted out only to those who have spied for the very worst of America's enemies?'"
The MKs urged Romney to follow in the footsteps of current and former senior American officials who have endorsed Pollard's release.
Unlike Clinton, Romney did not make any public statements about Pollard on his Israel visit. But the matter was raised in his private meetings. In his only public comments about Pollard so far, Romney told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in December that he was “open to examining” the case.
The Knesset State Control Committee will convene Tuesday to monitor the government's efforts to bring about Pollard's release. The Prime Minister's Office told committee chairman Uri Ariel (National Union) that despite his requests, it would not send representatives to the meeting.