JERUSALEM (JTA) — A petition signed by 106 Knesset members calling for the release of Jonathan Pollard, held in a U.S. prison for over 28 years for spying for Israel, was presented to Israeli President Shimon Peres.
Both coalition and opposition Knesset members signed the petition, which was given Wednesday to Peres by the caucus to free Jonathan Pollard, headed by Ayelet Shaked of the Likud Party and Nachman Shai of the Labor Party.
The Knesset members presented the petition to Peres during a meeting in order for him pass it on to the U.S. President Barack Obama, with the request that he free Pollard.
“It is both a right and a duty for me to bring before the President of the United States of America the request to free Jonathan Pollard which comes with agreement from across the political spectrum,” Peres said, according to a statement issued by his office. “As president it is my clear responsibility to voice such clear consensus, I do it with pride and see it as a duty and responsibility.”
Peres said he has raised the request to release Pollard with Obama on several occasions.
Pollard is in the 29th year of a life sentence in a U.S. prison for spying for Israel while working as a civilian Navy intelligence analyst.
Following revelations last week that American intelligence intercepted e-mails from senior Israeli officials, Israeli government officials have called for the release of Pollard, whose health is reported to be suffering. Other reports suggest that Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due to arrive in Israel in Thursday, have discussed linking Pollard’s release to a fourth Palestinian prisoner release as part of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which is scheduled to take place sometime this year.