Former education Minister and interior Minister Gideon sa’ar continues the process of returning to political life. He meets with the activists of the Likud, and commented on current events.
In an interview with NEWSru.co.il Saar shared his assessment of recent events on the Temple mount, in Jordan and throughout the region.
Interviewed political commentator NEWSru.co.il Gabby Wolfson.
Mr. Saar, we are in the final stages of the crisis over the Temple mount, which lasted more than two weeks. How do you see its end?
I also hope that we are on the last stages of this crisis, although obviously we need to be vigilant and to be prepared for any possible scenarios. The main thing now – to draw lessons from what happened, as it is obvious that success was not here. You can’t make a decision about the installation of metal detectors and surveillance cameras, and then cancel it under the influence of violent acts or threats of violence. So not to behave anywhere in the world and in our region particularly.
At what point a mistake was made when he decided to install metal detectors or when they decided to remove them?
Anyway, it is obvious that both solutions could not be correct. It is now important to analyze what happened and draw conclusions for the future. It is possible to influence the past, obviously not. You need to weigh all the possible consequences before a decision is made. You must be strong and believe in the rightness and necessity of the decision. And if you believe in the correctness and necessity firmly to defend it.
Let’s imagine that tomorrow, God forbid, again incident on July 14 and on the Temple mount will be a terrorist attack. What, in your opinion, Israel should do?
Talking about actions, based on a theoretical scenario, it would be most improper. Now we have to analyze what happened. It is obvious that the process that began with the murder of our policemen on the Temple mount, the place where we pray to God, ended with the fact that we are unable to strengthen its sovereignty on the Temple mount in Jerusalem. This requires that lessons be learned.
How substantiated the claim that, we are sovereign on the Temple mount. Maybe it is good only for returns?
I think that all of the obvious need to strengthen the sovereignty on the Temple mount. This should be done carefully, cautiously. I really hope that the final plan, as approved by the military-political Cabinet will be quickly implemented that ensure the proper level of security in this place. In addition, there are various aspects of our sovereignty on the Temple mount, on which you should pay attention.
For example, the destruction of antiquities, which has been celebrated on the Temple mount.
And that Israel can do? As we have seen, our powers are very limited by the Waqf, Jordan, the entire world.
For many years we have seen changes, sometimes contrary to one another. The term «status quo» is inaccurate, as reality is dynamic and changing all the time. A simple example. Since the second intifada started in 2000 was discontinued the visits of Jews to the temple mount. In 2003, the second government of Ariel Sharon decided to resume the visits, and since then the Jews visit the temple mount. So the assertion that nothing can be changed, wrong. We need to prepare, you need to consider all the possible consequences, you need to choose the right moment to do what is necessary.
During the last crisis, in your opinion, was not such a serious preparatory work?
About the last crisis, I said very clearly and unequivocally: mistakes were made.
You don’t want to be more specific? What was the error? The decision to install metal detectors or in the decision to remove them?
The answer is very simple. You can’t make a decision about the installation of metal detectors or cameras, and then cancel it under the influence of violent acts or threats of violence.
Violence, the installation of metal detectors was predictable?
To analyze the decisions retroactively can be very long, but it makes no sense. I was in three military-political offices: once as the Minister, twice in the role of Secretary to the government. I remember how difficult, it is not always predictable were the issues on the agenda. But we need to do an assessment of the situation, weighing the including the extremely negative scenario. However it is important that the situation analysis and assessment would be preceded by a decision. And if you come to the conclusion that the decision is motivated and necessary in the light of defense, state and other interests it should defend.
Simultaneously with the events on the Temple mount incident in Jordan. There is a decision-making process was also problematic?
We are talking about an event of a different nature, which coincided with what was happening on the Temple mount. Of course it is good that diplomats, including the security guard, managed to escape from Amman. This, incidentally, stipulated by Vienna Convention.
Yes, only in the video had the impression that the Jordanians do not give this Convention a great value.
If they gave it a value, it is likely that the process of liberation of the Israelites would move faster. In any case, the Prime Minister, the SHABAK, and other defence agencies have put a lot of effort to complete this incident. I can say only good words about how the acting Prime Minister.
Linking the incident in Jordan took place on the Temple mount was inevitable?
You proceed from the obvious premise that was the link. I’m not so sure. The fact is, for example, that the detectors and cameras were removed after a working group of the Embassy returned home. This weakens the claim of a direct link between these two events. One never confirmed such a connection, moreover its presence is strongly refuted. If such a relationship existed, it is certainly bad and wrong. But I believe that it is possible to draw conclusions about the failures in the decision-making process regarding the crisis over the Temple mount and without making a direct connection with the events in Jordan.
In the weeks sounded sharp criticism from senior politicians to address the General security service (Shin bet) and those who lead it. Do you think such criticism is valid, or it must remain behind the closed doors of the relevant offices?
Business and criticism are legitimate, and it does not matter in respect of any of the Institute it sounds. But in this case I can’t share the style, which had been criticized. Criticism must be reasonable, respectful and constructive. We are talking about one of the main defence structures of the country. There are the best of the best, and thanks to these people we can sleep nights. This does not mean that you cannot criticize the Shin bet – it can and should do. But the criticism should be in a different style and in a different form.
Former defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Saturday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was ready to set fire to the middle East, to divert attention from the investigations against him. How can you comment on this statement Barack?
Ehud Barak makes a variety of statements. They often contradict what he said earlier. If I remember correctly, the land of Israel were set on fire during the reign of Ehud Barak and not Benjamin Netanyahu. You can criticize the decision-making processes of the Prime Minister on the issue of the Temple mount. But it is logical to assume that if the version of Barack was right, and Netanyahu would like to fan the fire, he did not had to change the first decision taken by the Cabinet. It seems to me that this criticism is without merit, is not the business and the desire as sharply as possible to attack the head of government, thus attracting attention to themselves. You can criticize the Prime Minister, but better to do it on the basis of facts. Words of Barack had to the facts of the relationship.
The latest crisis continues to affect the situation in the region. Jordan refuses to return the Israeli Ambassador, Erdogan says anti-Israel rhetoric.
They are two different crises. Between them there is some connection, but they are inherently different. As I said, the crisis we failed, since we failed to strengthen the sovereignty on the Temple mount in Jerusalem. As for Jordan, it will take some time before relations are restored in full. It is clear that the regime in Jordan is under the influence of public opinion in his country and the Arab world in General.
As for Erdogan, I, as you know, objected to the agreement signed with Turkey a year ago. Under that agreement, Israel agreed to pay compensation to the families of the victims during the incident on the ship Mavi Marmara, an incident in which Israeli soldiers were attacked. I thought that the signing of the agreement is a mistake and those who think that the agreement will open a new page in relations with Turkey, are illusions. It seems to me that since then received a lot of evidence that my assessment of the situation was correct and sober. Erdogan uses sharp anti-Israel rhetoric as part of political tactics, the aim of which is to lead the Sunni Islamist camp. This will not change, and the tone of erdoğan’s just tougher. I would advise you to reconsider the whole complex of issues concerning the gas agreement with Turkey. It is impossible to build relations with the regime, the basis of ideology and politics which are such positions. I would not want to have a serious economic project burst at the last moment.
You recently published a great article on the future war between Israel and Hizbullah. I found the article mentions issues related to the preparation of the rear, which has long been essentially the front and during the operations in Gaza and during the war in Lebanon.
In Israel, written detailed reports about the situation in the rear during the period of hostilities. Many of the lessons of the Second Lebanon war lessons, and we saw it during the campaign in the Gaza strip. No one doubts the fact that the next war with Hizbullah will be harder to rear than the previous one. I know that this issue is taken into account the political and military leadership. The main problem is the attempt to «Hitable» to get their hands on missiles with precision and in large quantities. These days Iran is trying to create enterprise for the production of such missiles. Now I do not open secrets, a fact which has already been published. Plants are built in fragments, part of the plant is underground apart from the rest. This can dramatically change the course of a future war with Hizbullah. The damage these missiles can cause to infrastructure, military targets, much more than I was capable of conventional missiles in the hands of terrorists. This should be a «red line» and we cannot allow «Hezbollah» has received such missiles at its disposal.
When you say «we cannot afford», I mean including pre-emptive strikes?
This is one of the possibilities. Maybe if Hezbollah and Iran understand that Israel will not allow the transition of the «red line», which I said earlier, this in itself will be a deterrent. In that spirit, a few weeks ago, said one of the officers of the General staff. I’d love to achieve stop project without the use of force. But if no choice, you will need to weigh the possibility of using force to thwart these plans of Hizbullah.
In the past, you held the position of Minister of education. You’ve probably heard about the initiative to reduce the school holidays. How do you feel about this initiative and what are the chances for its implementation?
If you remember, as Minister of education, I have cut summer vacation for almost a week. Unfortunately, my successor Shai Piron reversed this decision, returning the holidays to two months for primary school pupils and two months and ten days for high school students. As for the future, I believe that it is possible to come to an agreement on the reduction of school holidays, but this cannot be achieved, not negotiating with the teachers through their representatives. This question directly concerns the working conditions of teachers, and it is therefore necessary to reach an agreement through negotiations.
Outside the context of this topic I want to say one more thing. The number of legal holidays in Israel are significantly lower than in most other developed countries. This second side of the same equation and the same is true for all workers in the state of Israel. The need for legislative change in the status quo.
I heard from several political figures, that if agreement could not be reached with teacher unions, school holidays will be reduced through legislation.
From my point of view, the one who says it, unfamiliar with the subject. This is unrealistic and won’t happen. You can come to an agreement with the teachers, I say this from personal experience. Teachers have the interests that parents have interests, the state has interests. The compromise of interests can only be achieved in the negotiations.
A few weeks ago a report was published about what you supposedly are in talks with Netanyahu refusal from intentions to run against him in the primaries in exchange for providing you with an important portfolio in the government. Comment on this post.
No part of this statement is wrong, has no soil and is not based on facts. It was nothing like this.
No talks or deals?
Nothing. The last time I spoke with the Prime Minister in November 2014. I believe that, when will the next conversation, you mentioned the theme will not be the first.
You weigh the opportunity to run against him in the primaries?
Currently not on the horizon of the election for the presidency of the Likud. When I returned to public life, said bluntly that my goal in the future to lead the government. But then I added that are not in a hurry. In December 2015, the Central Committee of the Likud has decided on the early primaries. I thought it was a mistake, as, in my opinion, the primaries should be carried out before elections to the Knesset, but not immediately after the election campaign. My opinion was supported by one third of the members of the Central Committee of the party, but we were in the minority. I still think that was right, but being a member of the party must respect the majority decision. So the deal that was so beautifully described, is impossible even technically, because of the decision of the Central Committee of Likud.
You have recently returned from Estonia. What was the reason for this visit?
Estonians are invited to get acquainted with the process of digitizing services that public institutions offer to citizens. Estonia is advanced in this area, the country, and I wanted to see in her experience, before I talk about this in Israel. In Estonia, 99% of public services are provided via the Internet, and it allows you to save money, time and work days. According to the world Bank, the use of biometric passports saves state up to 2% of gross national product per year. In Estonia several times to practice voting using the Internet, including about 6% outside the state. But the most important is certainly the opportunity to service government agencies and departments, not looking up from work or from home.
Estonia has well-developed systems of information protection?
They argue that over the past 15 years there has not been any effective hacker attack, despite the fact that the attempt was certainly. Israel has a fairly well-developed technology of cyber protection in order to move in the same direction. Voting in elections using the Internet is the future, but to provide citizens with services through the Internet is a problem that can be solved already now.
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