NEW YORK, Oct 2 (KUNA) -- US Vice President Joe Biden openly stressed his
strong opposition to the release of an Israeli spy once consulted by President
Obama on the issue of late, in the face of challenge by a host of rabbis a
week ago in Florida, according to the New York Times.
The paper reported that one of 15 rabbis had asked why Jonathan Pollard,
the Israeli spy convicted in 1986, was still in prison. "President Obama was
considering clemency, but I told him, 'Over my dead body are we going to let
him out before his time," Biden replied strongly. "If it were up to me, he
would stay in jail for life," he was quoted replying to the challenge.
This comes as Obama seeks to bolster his odds for re-election among several
core constituencies, and especially American Jews, who are usually Democrat
The issue was picked up and given much focus by Israeli media, including
Yedioth Ahronoth daily. "The issue of Pollard's pardon has been the proverbial
thorn in all recent US administrations' side: Jerusalem and a seemingly
ever-growing group of Pollard supporters say that after serving 25 years in
prison, Washington can afford to release Pollard without losing face.
Washington, however, has so far refused," it said on its webpage, Saturday.
"Obama is said to be relying on Biden for help with one particular core
group of voters; American Jews. The US Jewish community tends to vote
Democratic, but given their disapproval of the Obama Administration's policies
towards Israel, those votes can no longer be considered 'a sure thing," the
The paper points out that Biden has been tasked with fund-raising among the
Jewish Democrats, while reassuring the party's base that the Obama
administration remains a loyal friend to Israel.
According to the New York Times, Biden admitted to the rabbis that "the
administration had made a few missteps in its handling of the Israel
relationship," but made no further reference to the Pollard issue.
The paper believed, however, that Washington's adamant refusal to pardon
Pollard is unlikely to cost Obama the support of US Jews, especially after his
pro-Israel speech at the United Nations last week.(end)
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