White House pours cold water on Pollard release plea (ISRAEL HAYOM) Yoni Hirsch, Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff 06/14/12)
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Ahead of meeting between Obama and Peres on Wednesday, White House
Press Secretary Jay Carney tells reporters, "Our position [on
Pollard] has not changed and will not change today" • Peres still
asks Obama to give Pollard clemency, expresses optimism.
The White House´s position on granting clemency to convicted Israeli
spy Jonathan Pollard has not changed "and will not change today,"
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Wednesday,
essentially pouring cold water on any prospects for Pollard´s release
after 26 years in a U.S. prison.
Carney´s comments came just a few hours before President Shimon Peres
met U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office ahead of the much-
anticipated ceremony in which the Israeli president was presented
with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
"Our position has not changed and will not change today," Carney told
reporters during a press briefing. "And I would simply remind you
that Mr. Pollard was convicted of extremely serious crimes.”
Despite Carney´s comments, Peres asked Obama during their Oval Office
meeting for Pollard´s release, and the U.S. president reportedly “did
not close the door” on the idea.
Many people have expressed hope that Peres could advance Pollard’s
case during his visit to Washington. In the weeks leading up to the
meeting between the two presidents, reports said Peres would make a
personal appeal to Obama to pardon Pollard on humanitarian grounds in
light of the Israeli agent´s deteriorating health. The reports said
Peres would arrive at the White House carrying a petition seeking
Pollard’s release and signed by 70,000 Israeli citizens, among them
authors, Nobel Prize laureates, actors and singers, as well as former
Hamas captive Gilad Schalit and his family.
Despite Carney’s statements on Wednesday, members of the committee
working for Pollard´s release tried to maintain optimism.
Sepaking before Peres and Obama´s meeting, a committee member
said, "We hope that President Obama will respond positively to the
humanitarian request made by the president of Israel, the greatest
friend of the United States."
Former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb said on
Wednesday in a conversation with Pollard activists that Peres was an
esteemed individual who was almost "idolized" by the Democratic
establishment. This enabled him to act with determination behind the
scenes, and this might ripen the conditions for Pollard´s
release "soon," Korb said.
Peres´s political adviser, Nadav Tamir, told Army Radio on Thursday
that even though Pollard would not be returning to Israel with Peres,
the Israeli president´s request to Obama was not
Tamir said the first issue Peres had raised in his meeting with Obama
on Wednesday was Pollard´s release. According to Tamir, Peres said
Obama “did not close the door" on the possibility that Pollard would
Meanwhile, a new survey by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center,
released on Wednesday, found that global popularity of Obama and his
foreign policy had dropped.
In the U.S., support for Obama´s policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict
declined from 77 percent three years ago to 60% this year. In the
U.K., support for Obama´s approach to the conflict also fell, from
79% in 2009 to just 47% now.
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