A former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused the prime minister Saturday of being “on the wrong side of the law” in his comments on an IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter, and of putting politics ahead of the public interest.
Netanyahu on Wednesday evening said he supported a pardon for IDF soldier Elor Azaria, on the same day Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant. He also described the conclusion of the months-long trial as “a hard and painful day.”
Uzi Arad, who once served as a top adviser to Netanyahu and as the head of Israel’s National Security Council, but has since become a relentless critic of the Israeli leader, said Saturday that “the prime minister is on the wrong side of the law” in the Azaria case.
His call for a pardon for the soldier, Arad said, goes “against the principle of statesmanship, and it’s not the only matter in which the premier has taken an inappropriate stance. He prefers a political and not a statesmanlike approach.”
Netanyahu, Arad said at a cultural event near Jerusalem, “is not a humble man. He does what is good for him and his political status, and will always prefer his political status over the public interest.”
Arad also said the current suspicions of corruption against Netanyahu left his chief investigators — Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and Police Chief Roni Alsheich, both Netanyahu appointees — in a compromised and highly problematic position.
The investigation “puts them at the very edge of their ethical capability,” he said. “Put yourself for a moment in Mandelblit’s place. He can’t sit in the same room with Netanyahu and then make decisions regarding him.”
Asked if he thought the prime minister was indeed corrupt, Arad referenced Netanyahu’s infamous 2012 “nuclear duck” speech, in which the Israeli leader told AIPAC that Iran was exhibiting all the markings of a nation seeking nuclear weapons.
“Netanyahu taught us that if it walks, looks and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck,” Arad quipped. “Now let the public decide.”