Former Likud interior and education minister Gideon Sa'ar said Thursday that the current Likud-led government has failed to address the problem of terrorism and must "change direction," as he put it.
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Speaking to Army Radio, Sa'ar, who resigned from the cabinet in November 2014, said the current wave of violence can be halted, but he added: "Until the government issues the proper political policy directives to the security forces, this won't happen." For its part, the Likud party responded sarcastically: "It appears that Sa'ar has started a new career as an Internet commenter."
Regarding the current wave of terrorist attacks, Sa'ar said the Palestinians "are a society programmed for murder" and who pay monetary rewards to terrorists for killing Jews, and if the terrorist is killed in an attack in is paid to their families. "This is not a lone-wolf intifada, but rather another stage in a national struggle between two peoples that has continued for more than 100 years." If Israel is to win the current battle, it must "change the rules of the game and make the Palestinians feel that they are losing," he said.
In the aftermath of this week's terrorist attacks in Tel Aviv and Petah Tikva, which were carried out by West Bank Palestinians who were inside Israel illegally, Sa'ar was also critical of how the illegal presence of such Palestinians was being dealt with. "It's a serious failure," he said, claiming that no serious steps have been taken in response. What was necessary, he said, was arresting and punishing them. He also called for the expulsion of "those inciting at mosques and in the Palestinian media."
Sa'ar rejected the argument that the failure to curb terrorism was that of the security forces rather than the government. Responsibility, he said, lies at the level of elected officials. "The government has to restore security to the citizens of Israel, and apparently so far their approach has rather failed."
Sa'ar said he voted Likud in the Knesset elections a year ago, but the government "needs to justify" the choice that the electorate made to return Netanyahu and Likud to office.
Asked whether he would consider returning to politics, he said he was not dealing with that at the moment and would get back into politics "only if I felt that it could make a change." He also refrained from saying, if he made a political comeback, whether it would be within Likud.
Responding to Sa'ar's remarks, the Likud party said: "It appears that Gideon Sa'ar has opened a new career as an Internet commenter. He is a person lacking any security experience, who has not made an operational decision in his life, but babbling from his living room of his Tel Aviv home about the security situation as if he understands the considerations facing the political leadership doesn't cost anything."
The party added: "The government has been leading unprecedented steps in the war against terrorism and will continue to do so. The Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet [security service], the police and all of the defense forces are working with great determination with full backing from the political leadership. Everything else is babbling by politicians designed to attract votes."