Gidon Sa’ar reaffirms that he’s not ready for his comeback yet

Former Likud minister breaks his nearly year-long media silence to come out against High Court ruling partly overturning anti-migrant bill.

Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar said he plans to return to politics, but not as soon as has been reported, he said in radio interviews Wednesday.
In his first interview since resigning as interior minister last September, Sa’ar denied to Army Radio a Channel 10 report that he said he would return after a year.
“I announced a time out from political life almost a year ago to spend more time with my family and that is what I did after almost 20 years of political activity. Nothing has changed and it is not going to end in the near future,” he said.
Sa’ar added, however, that “every break comes to an end” and that he used the word “time out” intentionally.
“When it ends, you’ll hear about it from me, and believe me there will be no need for interpretations,” he stated.
In the meantime, the former minister said he is enjoying his quiet life with his family, as well as the time to think with some perspective about topics that are important to Israel as a fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.
Sa’ar broke his media silence over the High Court’s ruling Tuesday on the anti-migration law. As interior minister, he initiated the first version of the law, which the court overturned; Tuesday’s ruling partly upheld a third version.
“The High Court made a mistake,” he said. “For the third time in a row, and in less than two years, the High Court intervened and overturned a law passed by the Knesset that is meant to give [the government] tools to deal with a very difficult situation of illegal infiltration into Israel.
“Overturning a law passed by the Knesset, even according to judicial approaches, is supposed to be an unconventional weapon, not something that is routine,” Sa’ar explained.
He pointed out that when his first version of the law was overturned, then-Supreme Court president Asher Grunis said the court had to be careful about canceling legislation.
“This isn’t about prestige, this is about eroding the Knesset’s authority to legislate,” Sa’ar said.
The High Court ruled that it is constitutional to jail illegal migrants at the Holon detention facility in the Negev, but that holding them for 20 months is disproportionate, requiring the Knesset to amend the legislation within six months. The court limited the length of detention at Holot to 12 months; in two weeks, anyone who has been detained there for more than a year must be released.
Sa’ar said there is still a trickle of migrants illegally entering Israel, and warned that “the danger won’t disappear.”
“The state cannot give up... Holot must be expanded. We need more detentions. People in cities all over, mostly in south Tel Aviv, are collapsing under the burden. We need a normal hierarchy – first the citizens and then the illegal immigrants,” he said.