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Israeli lawmakers seek spy Jonathan Pollard's release from U.S. prison

Jan. 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM   |   Comments

JERUSALEM, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Israeli lawmakers asked President Shimon Perez to push for the release of Jonathan Pollard, held in a U.S. prison for more than 28 years for spying for Israel.

However, U.S. officials said there was "no chance" President Barack Obama would be willing to free Pollard -- convicted of passing classified information to Israel while working as a civilian intelligence analyst -- as a carrot for release of Israeli-Arab prisoners, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.

Knesset members Nachman Shai and Ayelet Shaked, who have been lobbying for Pollard's release, appealed to Peres to push the matter with U.S. officials.

The Jerusalem Post reported 106 lawmakers from coalition parties and the opposition, Jews and Arabs, submitted to Peres a letter addressed to Obama seeking Pollard's release.

"The release of Jonathan Pollard is a national issue, all the MKs [members of the Knesset], including Arabs, agree on this," Shaked said. "It's the one issue that there is general consensus about."

Peres has raised the issue of Pollard's release with Obama and previous U.S. presidents, Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva said.

"It is an honor for me to bring before the President of the U.S. such a wide agreement in the Knesset," Peres said after receiving the letter. "As president it is my clear duty to express such a wide consensus."

Efi Lahav, head of the Council for Pollard, has visited Pollard and described the prisoner's condition as serious, Arutz Sheva said.

"The hourglass is running out," Lahav said. "Perhaps it has run out already."

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