President Barack Obama reportedly promised Israel’s President Shimon Peres that he will ask Attorney-General Eric Holder to look into the possibility of releasing Jonathan Pollard, sources in Washington said Wednesday.
Peres told Obama that he had made a promise to Pollard’s wife Esther and to the people of Israel that he would do everything possible to effect the release of the Israeli agent, who is in his 29th year in prison.
“Peres is responsible, and he would not promise to bring Pollard home if he had no chance,” Strategic Affairs
Minister Yuval Steinitz told The Jerusalem Post. “Peres would not say what he did if Pollard was not in his pocket, so I have hope.”
The prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest, Peres bears personal responsibility in Pollard’s plight, since he made available documents to the U.S. with Pollard’s fingerprints that were used to incriminate him.
Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked, a leader of the Knesset’s Free Pollard caucus, said she hoped Peres would succeed in bringing Pollard home.
“I hope President Obama unshackles Pollard as a gesture of friendship to President Peres, if not as a matter of justice, at least out of mercy,” she said.
During their meeting on Wednesday, Obama and Peres also discussed Iraq, Iran and Mideast peace, The Associated Press said.
Obama and Peres met Wednesday at the White House amid Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. Peres told reporters after the meeting that the best solution is to remove Iran’s nuclear apparatus from the country, the same way chemical weapons were removed from Syria.
Peres said Obama told him the U.S. will maintain sanctions against Iran absent a comprehensive deal.
Peres is on his final foreign trip before leaving office. He’ll receive the Congressional Medal of Honor on Thursday.