Israelis are thirsty for leadership, says Sa’ar

Rabin fought terrorism with determination, former Likud minister says at Tel Aviv event. He said the current government should follow Rabin’s lead.

Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar called for Israel to have better leadership at an Israel Democracy Institute event memorializing slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Tuesday, in what was interpreted as an attack on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sa’ar, who was Netanyahu’s No. 2 in the Likud for many years, took a break from politics in September 2014 after sparring with the prime minister. He is expected to make a political comeback at some point in the future.
“We are sick of words,” Sa’ar said at the event. “We need leadership that can take initiative and that is not satisfied with simply responding to incidents. Israel needs leadership that knows its role is to serve the people and not the opposite, leadership that is ready to pay a price for a path that it believes in and will lead.”
Sa’ar told a packed auditorium at the Rabin Center in north Tel Aviv that Israel required leadership that would not pass the buck and would deal with the challenges its citizens face and not with political survival.
Rabin fought terrorism with determination, Sa’ar said. He said the current government should follow Rabin’s lead.
“Rabin used tough means,” Sa’ar said. “He expelled and rescinded blue identity cards and residency cards of those who incited violence or sent their children to carry out terror.”
The event, which attracted more than 200 people, was a symposium on the assassination and Israeli democracy. Opposition leader Isaac Herzog, Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Israel Democracy Institute president Yohanan Plesner and other IDI scholars spoke at the symposium.
Herzog warned at the event that if Israel did not separate soon from the Palestinians, it would be condemned to a binational state, which he called “Israelestine.” The current wave of terrorism proved the danger of Israelis and Palestinians living together, he said.
“The separation between the two communities and nations must be implemented on a political level,” he said. “Terrorism will be the result of a binational state. I believe that is where this government is headed.”
Defending the two-state solution, Herzog said the desire to separate from the Palestinians was “not about loving Arabs.” It was “the only Zionist solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he said.
Riskin said Arabs should be granted full civil rights in a Jewish state so long as they are willing to follow basic moral laws. Praising Rabin, he said: “He was a man of peace, a man of security... a secular man who respected religion.”