Israel to Urge Obama to Grant Pollard Leave for Father's Funeral

Netanyahu informs Likud ministers of decision to submit official request; some 70 MKs signed petition last week in support of Pollard family's own request to let convicted spy see his ailing father.

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Barak Ravid
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ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would submit an official request to the Obama administration requesting that convicted spy Jonathan Pollard be granted temporary leave to attend his father's funeral.

Netanyahu informed ministers from his Likud party Sunday of his decision to back the Pollard family's own request to that effect. A group of Pollard's supporters were planning to rally outside of the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv later Thursday to demand that the Obama administration respond positively to the request.

Former U.S. naval intelligence clerk Jonathan Pollard speaks during an interview, May 15, 1998Credit: AP

The family asked President Barack Obama to let Pollard visit his father last week, as he was dying in hospital, but the administration refused. Some 70 members of the Knesset signed a petition last week urging Obama to accede to the Pollard family's request.

Pollard's father Morris passed away on Saturday at the age of 95, after complications from an illness. His medical condition deteriorated quickly as his organs shut down following medical treatment for a bladder infection.

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.

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