Former PM confidant Uzi Arad: Netanyahu unfit to run the country
Arad says it's not about whether Netanyahu knew about the alleged corruption linked to the submarine purchase deal, 'it is enough that it reached officials very close to him for the Germans to reserve the right to withdraw from the deal'; PMO: 'Arad has been away from inner circles of gov't for years, his position is not informed or relevant.'
The comments are the latest in the mounting opposition to Netanyahu’s leadership coming from his former associates.
Arad served as Netanyahu’s political advisor during his first term as prime minister between 1996-1999. He stayed with Netanyahu during his time in the opposition and later, during Netanyahu's second term as prime minister between 2009-2011, Arad served as a state advisor, a NSC advisor and eventually headed the security institution.
He was involved in countless discussions on matters relating to foreign and security relations, including the equipping of the IDF and the acquisition of the Navy’s submarines.
“Regrettably, it is abundantly clear that in the last few years, Netanyahu’s functional and managerial problems on matters of national security have worsened,” Arad said in an interview with Yedioth Ahronoth.
“A recent Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee report blamed the prime minister for deliberately weakening the national security staff. Netanyahu also brought about the weakening of the government and the Security Cabinet as a supreme decision-making body of the state echelons,” Arad said as he began listing what he believed to be some of Netanyahu’s most conspicuous shortfallings.
Regarding the prime minister’s appointments policy, Prof. Arad accused Netanyahu of making decisions based on personal loyalty shown to him rather than on professional merit, capabilities, skills and experience.
“A few appointments the prime minister has made in recent times have been questioned or shattered prior to their entry into their positions due to various shortcomings, including a candidate for the head of the NSC, the candidate for the government secretary and today his nomination for the commissioner of Civil Service is being examined,” Arad said.
“Among the close associates to whom Netanyahu has given authority over important state matters are two lawyers, who are also his relatives, and who take care of their own interests while being involved in sensitive state affairs on behalf of the prime minister,” Arad added.
“Recently, one of them was questioned under caution on suspicion of corruption and fraud in his private work concerning German ships,” he said in relation to Netanyahu’s personal lawyer David Shimron.
Despite Shimron’s claims that his actions were unblemished by any wrongdoing or misconduct, Arad points to other members of Netanyahu’s coterie who are riddled with corruption suspicions.
“Last year, the number of aides and employees in the Prime Minister's Office who have been tainted with corruption or other problems has increased. And even if only some of these things reached the prime minister, he himself is still under suspicion and is expected to be questioned further. The overall weight of these functional problems exacts a high price from the prime minister while he manages state affairs,” he lamented before concluding that “Netanyahu is not qualified at this time to manage state affairs.”
Touching on the submarine affair, commonly referred to in Israel as Case 3000, Arad said: “The a question mark over the deal is on us, and it was on Netanyahu to prevent it from ever existing.
“The fact a German (company) might want to clear the way (to a deal) through illicit means is not new to the prime minister. That is why from the start, caution should have been employed, and double the precautionary measures should have been taken to ensure no blemish befell on the deal,” Arad insisted.
“The issue is not whether Netanyahu knew or didn’t know (about the illicit dealings). We can let him have the shadow of a doubt and assume he didn't know a thing. But it is enough that the (alleged corruption) reached officials very close to him, such as his lawyer Shimron and the person who he himself wanted appoint the head of the NSC, Bar-Yosef, for the Germans to see it as a high level of corruption.”
Arad went on to slam the lax levels of caution shown by Netanyahu throughout the handling of the deal.
“The moment Netanyahu’s associates got involved, and things started happening because of Netanyahu’s lack of caution, from the German point of view this was what is known as ‘grand corruption,’ and that is why they are protecting themselves with the right to withdraw from the deal.
“Instead of initiating an investigation and a thorough examination to verify that we have cleaned house, Netanyahu dragged his feet and thereby deepened the suspicions.”
A spokesperson for the prime minister dismissed the significance and importance of Arad’s comments.
“The public sees the prime minister’s impressive achievements in security and the unprecedented boom in foreign policy, and it is unimpressed by bothersome and frustrated critics like Uzi Arad, whose time has passed,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“Arad was forced to leave his position as head of the NSC under problematic circumstances. For years now, he has been kept away from the inner circles of government activity and his position is not informed or relevant,” the statement continued before attempting to debunk Arad’s claims.
“The fact that the German government signed the Memorandum of Understanding after it received another confirmation from the attorney general that the political leadership, meaning the prime minister, is not suspected of anything, says it all.”
Turning its attention to the media, the spokesperson accused Arad of overlooking Netanyahu’s achievements in the international and domestic arenas.
“The relentless attempts to defame (Netanyahu) by Uzi Arad and his friends in the media are worthy of contempt. Arad says the prime minister has weakened the NSC, but under his leadership the NSC enjoys close ties with world's superpowers and close security and political ties with an unprecedented number of countries,” the statement boasted.
“We suggest treating Arad’s words with suspicion, after he was recently adopted by the left-wing organization J Street, which works systematically against the State of Israel and even supported the Goldstone Report that referred to IDF soldiers as war criminals.”