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Daily Israel Report

Halutz the Politician: We Could Have ‘Bought’ Ron Arad

Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who joined Kadima last month, claims Israel could have ”bought” missing navigator Ron Arad’s freedom.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/2/2011, 12:28 PM / Last Update: 1/2/2011, 12:36 PM

Flash 90

Former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who officially joined Kadima last month and promptly called for the resignation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, now blames former Israeli governments for missing an opportunity to “buy” missing navigator Ron Arad’s freedom.

Halutz also said Israel should have dealt Hamas a “heavy blow” after the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit four years ago. He also reiterated his support for surrendering part or all of the Golan Heights to Syria, but qualified his stand as being dependent on what the public wants.

Halutz stepped down as commander of the IDF after the Second Lebanon War, in which he was highly criticized from the first day, when Hizbullah terrorists kidnapped and later killed soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. The same morning, he allowed himself to be interrupted to accept a phone call from his bank, advising him to sell shares in the stock market.

After two years in the corporate world, Halutz three weeks ago signed up with Kadima, saying that it represents the political future of the country and is closest to his self-described center-left views.

In a speech Saturday night in Be’er Sheva, Halutz said Israel forfeited a chance to pay cash to terrorists for the release of Arad, whose plane was shot down over Lebanon in 1986 and who still is reported as missing although there is no evidence that he is still alive.

Halutz told his audience that “our nationalistic considerations" did not allow paying for Arad and that decision-makers now regret their decision.

He also stated that the government should have ordered the IDF to attack Hamas continuously after Shalit was kidnapped, while Halutz was IDF Chief of Staff. Halutz, who has said he wants a “top spot” on the party list, said political leaders rejected the idea. He did not mention that the prime minister at the time was Kadima leader Ehud Olmert.

Concerning Syria, Halutz spoke like a seasoned politician, saying that a deal with Syria for surrendering part of the strategic Golan Heights region depends on whether “the people will support” it.