Jewish Home MK: Most Israelis want convicted soldier pardoned

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli calls on President Rivlin to reconsider his refusal to pardon convicted IDF soldier Elor Azariya.

Benny Tucker ,

Shuli Moalem-Refaeli
Shuli Moalem-Refaeli
Hadas Porush, Flash 90

MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Jewish Home) signed a letter calling on Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to reconsider his decision not to pardon convicted IDF soldier Elor Azariya.

Azariya 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 shot by Azariya had wounded a soldier shortly beforehand.

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.

On Sunday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin's decided to reject Azariya's request for pardon.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, Moalem-Refaeli said, "I think the President is dear to us all, but I think we are allowed to disagree with him in a way respectful to him as a person and to his role as President. The right to pardon belongs to the President, and I am saddened by his decision. I believe that the proper thing to do is to end this unfortunate chain of events and the upheaval it caused Israeli society by pardoning Elor."

"Therefore, my request that the President reconsider his decision is a legitimate request. This was a very difficult event, and the court made its stance clear, but the President has the power to grant pardons. We need to move forward.

"I think that when you look at the broader picture of Israeli society, IDF soldiers, the new soldiers who are enlisting, and the significance of the IDF as the 'people's army,' you can hear the majority of the Israeli public shouting their protest. People have weighed down the shoulders of this young soldier in order to advance personal agendas and the proper thing to do is end it by pardoning him."

However, Moalem-Refaeli said no one should slander the President for refusing to pardon Azariya.

"Anyone who 'pours out the baby with the bathwater' is making a big mistake," she said. "In the previous Knesset, the members of the Jewish Home party supported Rivlin. However, we are still allowed to argue with him, and disagree with him on some issues."

"I don't think MKs should make statements which cause more harm than good. Specific criticism is one thing, but comments which are unrelated to the issue itself turn into comments which lack restraint or are irresponsible, causing damage to Israeli society and the State of Israel. In the end, these comments end up in the hands of those who are on the edge of Israeli society or outside of it, and who want to uproot the foundations of our existence."