The long-term issue of waves of Arab-Israeli violence is a greater threat to the State of Israel than Hamas and Hezbollah, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar told The Jerusalem Post Monday.
“The phenomenon of organized crime [in the Arab-Israeli sector] endangers Israel more than external threats,” he said in an interview that will appear in full in Friday’s Post.
Pressed if he really believed the issue was a greater threat to the country than threats posed by Hezbollah and Hamas, Sa’ar responded without hesitation, “In my view, yes.”
“If you do not know how to deal with this issue, it will cause Israeli society to crumble to pieces from within,” he said.
Addressing the potential pitfalls of involving the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) in combating the murder wave, as opposed to leaving the police to handle it, Sa’ar said the “Shin Bet Law empowers the agency to deal with organized crime,” such as the current Arab-Israeli wave of violence that is “undermining the foundations of the rule of law.”
“It is smart,” he said. “This is a hard situation, and we need all of the state authorities. We are not using them to replace the police tomorrow, but they [the Shin Bet] can help in different ways.”
When it was noted that many Shin Bet officials would prefer not to be involved in anything beyond their more regular counterterrorism mission, Sa’ar said: “They will come committed to the effort” when called on
Furthermore, elements of the current wave of violence also have spilled over into nationalistic crimes, and the Shin Bet’s capabilities were most appropriate for combating the approximate 500,000 illegal weapons in the Arab-Israel sector, he said.
Sa’ar later said in New Hope’s faction meeting he would insist on completing the passage of a bill requiring minimum jail sentences for possessing illegal weapons. He said he would also widen the authority of economic courts to take action against the tax evasion and money laundering of organized crime and enable police to take more steps to prevent evidence from being lost.
Ra’am (United Arab List) head Mansour Abbas on Monday told his faction he was worried about the security of Arab society, which is suffering from violence and crime.
“Happily there are practical steps that are advancing as part of the five-year plan for eradicating violence and crime,” he said. “Our priorities are eradicating violence and crime in the Arab sector, advancing construction programs and land allocation for Arab society through various committees, including recognition of Negev settlements, and economic development of the Negev.”
The passage of the budget is critical for implementing a change in policy to achieve the goals his party set, Abbas said.
“We [did] not make a coalition to break it up,” he said. “We want it to continue working and to continue to exist, but we are demanding that the government and coalition fulfill its promises to Ra’am.”