Gilad Shalit is joining a chorus of voices calling for the release of an Israeli imprisoned in the US on conviction of espionage.
The ex-Hamas captive is advocating that American officials free Jonathan Pollard, 58, who has been imprisoned since 1985 for spying for Israel. He will be eligible for parole in two years.
Since his initial arrest, Pollard has had the support of figures from Israeli President Shimon Peres to past Pope Benedict XVI. Formal appeals for release have consistently been denied by the US government, however.
Now, Israeli officials are arguing that in light of leaked intelligence that the US has spied on at least two occasions on Israeli prime ministers, Washington should release Pollard as a sign of good faith.
This week, Shalit, who has become a figurehead for the anti-imprisonment movement following his five years in Gaza captivity, has penned an open letter to the same effect.
“After Israel has released terrorists with blood on their hands as a gesture to the Palestinians, a return gesture is all that is being requested,” Shalit wrote in the letter, published on Ynet, where the 27-year-old works as a sports writer.
Shalit also referred to rumors that Israel would tie any final peace deal with the Palestinians to assurance that Pollard will be released.
“I believe, and I think that, like myself, all of the people of Israel believe that the prime minister’s request for such a simple gesture, the release of Jonathan Pollard, is owed to us by right, and is not a favor,” Shalit wrote.
”Please, everyone, join me, in a clear demand to our friends, the Americans: We have already freed scores of murderous terrorists with blood on their hands at your request – now it is your turn to make a gesture to us! It may even save Pollard’s life.”
Pollard was born in the US but was made an Israeli citizen during his time in prison. He has been jailed for 29 years.