'Legitimate criticism is not incitement'

Likud ministers discuss Israeli public's criticism of President Rivlin's refusal to pardon convicted IDF soldier.

Chana Roberts ,

Miri Regev
Miri Regev
Marc Israel Sellem/Flash 90

Several Likud MKs responded to the Israel public's criticism of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's decision not to pardon convicted IDF soldier Elor Azariya.

Azariya, who was released from the IDF in June after having completed his three-year mandatory service, was convicted of manslaughter in January for the shooting a wounded terrorist he suspected of having an explosive vest. In the March 2016 terror attack in Hevron, the terrorist in shot by Azariya left one soldier wounded.

In February, Azariya was sentenced to 18 months in prison, though on appeal, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot slashed four months from the sentence.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) said he does not agree with Rivlin's decision. He believes "that Rivlin needed to allow Elor Azariya to return home, and he needed to have pardoned him." However, he also said that Rivlin "thought about it and his decision was well thought out."

Katz also said that "in a democracy, you are allowed to disagree and to criticize, but the personal attacks and incitement against the President are an embarrassment and cross red lines. These must stop immediately."

MK Yoav Kisch (Likud) said, "We must honor the President's decision to refuse to pardon Elor Azariya. He has the authority to make such a decision, and he had all the relevant information. You can think differently, but the denigration is extraneous and only harms us."

Culture anport Minister Miri Regev (Likud) spoke about the incitement against Rivlin on social media.

"I condemn all incitement and racism, against any person, including against the President," she said. "However, we must understand that it is inconceivable that every relevant discussion becomes incitement."

"It's time everyone understood that relevant and correct criticism must be said and heard. This is not incitement, it's a change in thinking. The criticism of Rivlin is relevant and legitimate."

"Specifically because of his position and its ability to unify people, Rivlin should have ended this saga by pardoning Elor Azariya. It saddens me that he was too scared to do so."