Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced a challenge Sunday from his No. 2 in Likud, Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who warned him that Hamas’s attack on Israel proved the danger of creating a Palestinian state.
Sa’ar, who is considered a future candidate for prime minister, spoke at a conference marking the nine-year anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip at Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
“After withdrawing from Lebanon brought Hezbollah to power and withdrawing from Gaza brought Hamas to power, the lesson must be not to form a terrorist state in the heart of our land,” Sa’ar said.
“A Palestinian state would endanger Israel’s future.”
Sa’ar praised the uprooted residents of Gaza’s Gush Katif bloc of Jewish communities, saying that following Operation Protective Edge it was clear that they had protected the entire country. He mocked then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s promise that withdrawing from the Gaza Strip would harm attempts to terrorize Israel.
“Where there are no settlements, there is no IDF, and where there is no IDF, there is terrorism,” Sa’ar said. “Terrorism was not defeated by withdrawing.
It was strengthened by the withdrawal.”
Sa’ar stressed that he was supporting Netanyahu. He expressed hope that the prime minister would make the decisions necessary to achieve the goals of Protective Edge, such as demilitarizing the Gaza Strip.
“Demilitarizing Gaza is a correct goal that we need to pursue with determination,” he said. “But it will be difficult to achieve this as long as the Hamas remains in charge of the Gaza Strip.”
Sa’ar urged Netanyahu to insist that the maritime blockade on Gaza remain in force as long as Hamas remains in power there. He warned that any cement provided while Gaza remains under Hamas control would be used to rebuild the terrorist infrastructure and harm Israel’s civilians and soldiers.
He read from speeches defending the disengagement plan from Gaza by current Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
He mocked her for pushing for the withdrawal by saying that it would win Israel praise from the international community.
“The Arab enemy that was happy about evacuating Jews from Gush Katif now wants to eliminate Jews from the communities around Gaza and end Jewish settlement in the state as a whole,” he said.