Almost all members of the Knesset signed the document at the close of a lengthy discussion of the Pollard issue on Wednesday, which has come to the fore once again in the wake of recent disclosures of American spying on Israeli leaders.
The petition will be sent to Obama via President Shimon Peres and to the U.S. Senate by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. A group of legislators will deliver it to U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
The only Jewish MKs who did not sign deal regularly with the U.S.: Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Netanyahu said he welcomed the effort, but reiterated his position that the Pollard issue is unconnected to the reports of American spying.
During the special Knesset session, Speaker Yuli Edelstein recalled visiting Pollard in 1998, when a U.S. senator told him that if Israel tried more seriously to explain why its agent should be released he would already be home.
“I hope we will see him free soon and we will no longer need such discussions in the Knesset,” Edelstein said. “As someone who has experienced what it is like to lack freedom, 28 years of prison is unfathomable for me.”
A second petition calling for Pollard’s release was put forward by Arab MKs, though theirs also cited Palestinians in Israeli prisons whom they say should be set free.
The Arab Members who did not sign the Petition were:-