captive Gilad Shalit
signed a petition urging President Shimon Peres
to help free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard
from US prison, Ynet learned Thursday.
links Pollard's plight to US President Barack Obama's
announced intention to award Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
During his speech at last month's AIPAC conference, Obama said that he chose to bestow Peres with the US' highest civilian honor over to his "embodiment of the values of dignity and freedom."
Since then, nearly 30,000 citizens signed a petition urging Peres to use the occasion to promote Pollard's release.
Peres with Shalit last year (Photo: Ziv Binyonski)
The petitioners lauded Peres for being picked for the honor and for his dedication of the award to the citizens of Israel.
"But we cannot accept it while the US keeps Jonathan Pollard in prison even though senior American figures have admitted that his continued imprisonment is immoral and unjust," they wrote.
The petition implores the president to take advantage of his "unprecedented diplomatic standing to make immediate efforts to free Jonathan prior to receiving the medal. Only thus will it be possible to prevent a situation in which the reception of the Medal of Freedom makes a mockery of Jonathan and our country."
'Mr. President, assure Pollard's freedom.' The petition
Folk singer Ruhama Raz told Ynet she enlisted Shalit and his family for the effort.
"Gilad intends to call for Jonathan Pollard's release in his next interview," Raz said, citing the formerly captive soldier's father, Noam Shalit.
The group orchestrating the petition efforts thanked Shalit for joining the cause, saying that "No one understands the critical window of opportunity better than him."
Peres, who met with Obama in Washington in early March, told the convict's wife, Esther Pollard, that he had appealed to the US leader to free her husband.
Top US figures have urged the government to let Pollard go, including former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former CIA Director James Woolsey and others exposed to the confidential materials in the case.
Pollard was convicted of spying for Israel and received a life sentence in 1987.