JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli petition is demanding that Shimon Peres condition his acceptance of the U.S. Medal of Freedom on clemency for Jonathan Pollard.
The online petition, which had garnered more than 10,000 signatures on Monday, praises Israel’s elder statesman for the honor that President Obama plans to bestow on him later this year.
"We ask you to exploit your unprecedented diplomatic status to act immediately for Jonathan Pollard’s release, before you receive the medal," the petition states. "Only this will avert a situation whereby conferring the Medal of Freedom makes a mockery of Jonathan and his country."
Pollard is serving a life prison sentence for passing Israel military secrets while he served as a civilian U.S. Navy analyst in the 1980s. Israel, which gave Pollard citizenship, has lobbied consecutive U.S. administrations to grant him an early release.
A Jerusalem official declined to comment directly on the petition addressed to Peres, the Israeli president, but said the Netanyahu government continued to view Pollard’s case as a priority.
Obama during his speech earlier this month before the AIPAC policy conference said he would award the medal — the highest honor that the United States can award to a civilian — to Peres this summer.