Six former Israeli spymasters accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday of jeopardizing the country’s future as it prepares to celebrate the 70th anniversary of its founding next month.
The surviving ex-Mossad intelligence agency chiefs voiced their opinion of the fourth-term, right-wing leader in a joint interview excerpted on the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s best-selling newspaper and a regular Netanyahu critic.
Netanyahu had no immediate response, but a senior member of his governing coalition brushed off the censure.
Danny Yatom, who headed the Mossad during Netanyahu’s first stint in office in the late 1990s, called for his ouster, accusing him and his aides of “putting their interests ahead of national interests” as corruption investigations deepen.
Police questioned Netanyahu on Monday over his alleged dealings with the country’s largest telecommunication company, one of three cases weighing on his political future. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing and opinion polls show his popularity is still high.
Yatom also voiced concern about “the inertia in the diplomatic sphere, which is leading us toward a bi-national state (with the Palestinians), which would spell the end of (Israel as) a Jewish and democratic state”.
Negotiations over a “two-state solution” to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians have been frozen since 2014. Some argue that if Israel fails to quit occupied territory, it could one day face a choice between remaining a democracy or securing a Jewish majority by denying the Palestinians voting rights.
Figures cited by Israeli officials on Monday showed the number of Jews and Arabs between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River – territory encompassing Israel, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip – is at or near parity.
“We have children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren here, and I want them to live in a healthy country – and the country is sick,” Zvi Zamir, Mossad director from 1968 to 1974, was quoted as saying by Yedioth.
“We are in a critical medical state. It could be that the country had symptoms when Netanyahu took over, but he has brought it to the grave condition of a malignant disease.”
Netanyahu left hospital late Tuesday following tests at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem after suffering from a high fever and bad cough.
“The prime minister has completed a series of tests and will be released home tonight,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said earlier, adding: “The tests showed a mild viral illness in the upper respiratory tract.”
Netanyahu’s illness has come at a stressful time for the right-wing four-times prime minister, who is under police investigation for corruption in three different cases. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.
Netanyahu, 68, fell ill in mid-March and cancelled his public schedule for five consecutive days.
On Monday Netanyahu, his wife and son were questioned by police as part of an investigation into one of the corruption cases in which the prime minister is a suspect.
In the two other cases police have already recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery. The final decision about whether to prosecute rests with the Israeli attorney general. That decision could be months away.
Surveys have shown that about half of Israelis believe the police over Netanyahu and think he should step down, while a third think he should remain in office. Support for Netanyahu’s Likud party remains strong in opinion polls.