President Shimon Peres met Sunday morning with the wife of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard. and promised to petition the Americans to free Pollard on humanitarian grounds.
Peres, who is nearing the end of his term as president, is set to fly to the US where he will receive the Congressional Gold Medal from US President Barack Obama for lifelong commitment to peace.
Pollard, a former civilian employee of the US Navy, was jailed for life in 1987 for spying for Israel. He is eligible for parole in November 2015.
After meeting Esther Pollard at the beginning of this year, Peres had promised to dedicate the remainder of his presidency to convince the US to free the Israeli spy, who is now serving his 29th year in prison.
Peres with Ester Pollard (Archive photo: Ori Lench/ Flash 90)
In a meeting with Pollard's wife and the heads of the Knesset's Caucus to free Jonathan Pollard, the president said "It is a national responsibility to work to free Pollard, I will speak to the President of the United States on behalf of the people of Israel. I intend to do this during my meetings in Congress and at the White House."
Esther Pollard thanked the president, and said she was grateful for his efforts and for the meeting. "Jonathan's health has deteriorated and his situation is serious. I hope that now, after 30 years, your request for his release will be heard."
The coordinator for the campaign to free Jonathan Pollard, Efi Lahav, said, "We know that you, Mr. President, have made significant efforts during your term in office and now we believe in your ability to persuade the President of the United States. We believe your upcoming visit to the US is the most serious opportunity yet to release Jonathan Pollard."
Labor MK Nachman Shai, who is a member of the caucus, said that Israelis from across the spectrum supported Pollard's release.
"There is a national consensus, which crosses party divides in the Knesset, of Jews and Arabs who agree that Jonathan Pollard must be released. I believe that if the President of the United States hears from you that the issue is important to you and to the people of Israel there will be progress."
Bayit Yehudi MK Ayelet Shaked told Peres that "only you can use your influence on the American leadership to bring Jonathan home."