Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin Photo by Alberto Denkberg
Text size

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin urged U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday to release Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life term for spying for Israel, following a report claiming Biden had objected to a plan by U.S. President Barak Obama to release the Israeli spy.

On Saturday, the U.S. vice president was quoted by the New York Times as telling Florida rabbis that Obama "was considering clemency, but I told him, ‘Over my dead body are we going to let him out before his time.’"

"If it were up to me, he would stay in jail for life,” Biden was quoted as saying, with the New York Times report claiming the move was meant to improve Obama's approval ratings among Jewish voters.

In a letter addressed to Biden on Sunday, Rivlin responded to the New York Times report, saying that "Pollard paid a heavy price for his deeds. He was imprisoned for many years and is carrying a punishment that is heavy under any standards, much beyond the accepted norms even in the U.S. judicial system."

"We are sure justice has been served and that it is time to show clemency and release [Pollard] immediately," Rivlin said, adding that while there are "differences between us and the Americans, there are issues, such as Pollard, that have reached an absurd level, under any universal standard, human or legal."

"Even U.S. jurists that have insisted on exacting a toll on Pollard agree that he has paid a price beyond any proportion," the Knesset Speaker added.

Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 on charges of spying on the U.S. for Israel. He is incarcerated at a federal jail in North Carolina.