Israel Political Brief April 9, 2012: Obama White House Rejects President Shimon Peres’ Plea to Release Jonathan Pollard



White House denies Pollard appeal

Washington rejects President Peres’ plea for humanitarian clemency on behalf of ailing spy; National Security Council says US ‘has no intention’ of releasing him
Source: YNet News, 4-9-12

The White House announced Monday that the US administration has rejected President Shimon Peres‘ request to grant convicted spy Jonathan Pollard clemency.

“Our position has not changed in this case,” National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said.

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The Obama Administration “has no intention to release Pollard,” he added.

Earlier, Peres sent a personal letter to US President Barack Obama in which he asked him to pardon the convicted spy on humanitarian grounds.

Pollard is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina penitentiary. The 57-year-old’s health has been deteriorating over the past few years and he took another turn for the worst on Friday, when he was rushed to a civilian hospital. He currently remains in serious, yet stable condition.

In the letter, Peres thanked Obama for his loyalty to the Jewish State, but noted that Israel is very concerned about Pollard’s waning health.

News of Pollard’s hospitalization renewed calls within the Israeli government to push Washington for his release.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar as well as Shas’ spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, all joined in the call urging the US to pardon the ailing spy.

Still, prior to sending Obama the letter Peres noted that while he would do everything in his power to help, “There are other American considerations that I am not familiar with.”

The idea of Pollard’s release is not without support in the US.

Other than the various groups campaigning for his release, former top officials in the US administration agree that given the fact that Pollard has already served 27 years in prison, Washington should not automatically negate the possibility of a pardon.

Among those who voice their support for Pollard’s release are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz and CIA director James Woolsey.

Israel Political Brief April 9, 2012: Rick Santorum’s New York Daily News Op-ed ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Israel’



Jerusalem is the capital of Israel

The following Op-Ed by Rick Santorum first appeared in the New York Daily News on April 9, 2012: 

There is, sadly, a huge divide between the Obama administration’s position and that of the government of Israel with regard to Jerusalem.For thousands of years, at the end of the Passover Seder as well as at the end of Yom Kippur, Jews around the world conclude their holiday by reciting, “Next Year in Jerusalem.”

To Jews, Jerusalem is the holiest city, and has the holiest site, the Temple Mount, which includes the Western Wall. Jews praying outside of Jerusalem face toward Jerusalem. When Israel became a state more than 60 years ago, Jerusalem, though it was divided at the time and the Western Wall was in Jordanian hands, was declared Israel’s capital.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a case brought by an American Jewish family, the Zivotofskys, whose child was born in West Jerusalem in 2002. The Obama administration, following the Bush administration’s policy, opposed listing “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on the child’s American passport — despite a U.S. law requiring such a listing.

The U.S. Supreme Court, by an 8-1 margin, decided that the State Department could not wantonly break such a law and prevent the judiciary from reviewing that breach. I agree with that decision.

Even more startling than this refusal to list “Jerusalem, Israel” as the birthplace on an American passport was an exchange at a March 2012 Obama State Department press briefing. In an exchange with Associated Press reporter Matt Lee, the spokeswoman made it clear that even Jerusalem’s western part, the Jewish side of the city, controlled by Israel since 1949, is not recognized as part of Israel.

The question was asked repeatedly:

Q: “What is the capital of Israel?”

A: “Our policy with regard to Jerusalem is that it has to be solved through negotiations. That’s all I have to say on this issue.”

The conversation continued:

Q: “Is it your — is it your position that all of Jerusalem is a final-status issue, or do you think — or is it just East Jerusalem?”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further to what I’ve said 17 times on that subject. Okay?”

And again:

Q: “All right. So hold on. So I just want to make sure. You’re saying that all of Jerusalem, not just East Jerusalem, is a final-status issue.”

A: “Matt, I don’t have anything further on Jerusalem to what I’ve already said.”

The Obama administration is thus saying that it does not even recognize Israel within its indefensible 1949 borders but that somehow it will protect Israel’s security?

It has been longstanding U.S. policy not to officially recognize any part of Jerusalem as part of Israel — and it is dead wrong.

Never has Israel ever offered Western Jerusalem in a negotiation, so why would the administration keep this totally Jewish section of the city in question?

The Israeli Gaza withdrawal and the missiles that are launching from there into Israeli cities demonstrates that any Israeli withdrawal from any part of Jerusalem would leave Israel without defensible borders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, as have other Israeli prime ministers, that he will never divide Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, I cannot say that my opponent for the Republican Presidential nomination has a different position from that of the President. He has not expressed his opinion about the Obama administration’s position on Jerusalem.

When asked about recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving our embassy there, Mitt Romney is undecided, and said he would consult with the government of Israel. He has been running for President for six years, and I think that is long enough for him to get up to speed on foreign policy and make a decision on this crucial issue.

There is no daylight between my position and the government of Israel’s on the issue of Jerusalem. I voted for the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, I support recognizing a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and I will move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in compliance with that act.

It is actually not well known that the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 made it U.S. law to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that the waiver provision of the act only applied to moving the embassy to Jerusalem. A letter to President Bill Clinton — signed by 84 U.S. senators, including me — articulated this point.

We know the Obama administration is not complying with U.S. law. We do not know what a potential Romney administration would do. A Santorum administration would mean that next year, there will be a Passover Seder at the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem — and when Jews say, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” that will actually be the case for the U.S. Embassy.

Israel Political Brief April 9, 2012: President Shimon Peres sends letter to President Barack Obama requesting Jonathan Pollard clemency




Peres sends letter to Obama requesting Pollard clemency

Source: JTA, 4-9-12

Israeli President Shimon Peres sent a personal letter to President Obama requesting clemency for Jonathan Pollard.

The letter, sent Monday, cited Pollard’s severe health situation in requesting that he be released from Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina, where he is serving a life sentence for spying for Israel.

The letter was delivered to Obama via U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro. Obama received the letter Monday afternoon, Haaretz reported.

Pollard reportedly was rushed to a hospital outside of the prison on the eve of Passover suffering from an unspecified emergency condition. He has suffered from a variety of illnesses since being imprisoned in 1986.

Obama announced last month that he would award Peres with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in June; a petition signed by more than 35,000 Israelis has called on Peres to link the awarding of the medal to clemency for Pollard. Former captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit signed the petition last week.

Peres on Monday also received a petition signed by 80 Israeli lawmakers calling on Obama to release Pollard, according to reports.

Peres met Sunday with Pollard’s wife, Esther, who appealed to the president to request her husband’s release “before it is too late.”

“I appeal to you as Jonathan’s wife so that you might use your influence because I do not want to be his widow,” Esther Pollard reportedly told Peres on Sunday. “Jonathan’s strength is slipping away, and I do not know what will happen the next time I receive a telephone call about his health problems.”

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