Peres downplays US statement on Pollard (JERUSALEM POST) By GIL HOFFMAN 04/10/12)
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President Shimon Peres´s office released a statement Tuesday
downplaying initial White House reactions from US President Barack
Obama to his formal request to release Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.
US National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters
Monday that the United States had not altered its stance on keeping
Pollard behind bars.
"There´s no change in our position," Vietor said.
But Peres´s office said he had not received an official response from
the White House and that Vietor´s statement was issued before Obama
had made a decision.
Committee For Jonathan Pollard spokesman Adi Ginsburg said Vietor´s
statement merely reflected the White House´s policy until now.
"President Peres issued his request officially and personally to
president Obama and we are all waiting for the official and personal
response of Obama directly to Peres," Ginsburg said. "President Obama
is the only one with the authority to commute sentences, so any
declarations by any other officials are irrelevant."
In his missive to Obama, Peres thanked him for the great friendship
that his government has shown to the State of Israel and emphasized
the concern felt in Israel in general and by members of Pollard´s
family in particular about his deteriorating health.
Peres noted that in view of Pollard´s poor health coupled with the 26
and a half years that he had served, it would be viewed as a supreme
humanitarian gesture if Obama would commute his sentence.
The heads of the Pollard caucus in the Knesset, MKs Ronit Tirosh
(Kadima) and Uri Ariel (National Union), urged Peres to reconsider
accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Obama is he rejects
his request for Pollard´s freedom.
Tirosh said she had been brought to tears by Vietor´s statement,
because she had hoped that Peres could succeed due to his close ties
"The White House´s answer is disappointing," Tirosh said. "Pollard is
apparently just a political card for them. If I were Peres, I might
not take the medal. I can´t understand such wickedness."
Ariel said the quick response from the White House´s spokesmen
indicated that their behavior was "insensitive and borderline cruel."
But he said he still had hope that Obama´s official response would be
positive. Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report (© 1995-2011,
The Jerusalem Post 04/10/12)
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