Over two thousand people gathered in front of the President's Residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening to call for the release of Jonathan Pollard, on the eve of U.S. President Barack Obama's arrival.
The rally was held under the title "Obama, come with Pollard." Protesters held signs that read: "Mr. President, Save Pollard." The protesters called on the American president to sign a presidential order for the release of the convicted spy.
The streets adjacent to the President's Residence were blocked off to traffic.
A new campaign to free the convicted spy has been launched ahead of President Obama's arrival, including a petition that has reached 200,000 signatures. The Facebook page of U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro is full of calls to free Pollard and politicians have published notices of support.
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have also jumped on the bandwagon. They have been photographed with Pollard’s wife, Esther, and have stated on camera that they will raise the issue in their meeting with Obama. Although both Peres and Netanyahu are well aware that the public campaign will likely do nothing to secure the release of Pollard from his American prison cell.
White House officials have heard about the petition and know that the question will be broached in Obama’s talks with Israeli leaders. Nonetheless, they stress that there has been no change in the U.S. position on Pollard.
As Obama made clear in his March 14 interview with Channel 2’s Yonit Levy, the American justice system offers periodic review for felons like Pollard seeking early release. Yet the self-confessed spy has never exercised his right to seek parole.
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