Sa'ar: Israel must persuade the world to end Assad's regime

By Gil Hoffman, JPOST

Gideon Sa'ar

Syrian dictator Bashar Assad must go, and Israel must help convince the international community to bring him down, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former No.2 in the Likud, Gideon Sa’ar, told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.

In his first interview with a print newspaper since he returned to politics following a two-and-a-half year hiatus, Sa’ar explained why he has the best chance to succeed Netanyahu as prime minister.

During his timeout from politics, Sa’ar conducted in-depth research of the Syrian issue at the Institute for National Security Studies, adding to the knowledge he gained in the security cabinet.

“Israel has an interest in Assad losing power,” Sa’ar said. “His replacement won’t be a Zionist. But Iran is the most dangerous enemy of Israel, and therefore its control over Syria and its ability to deliver arms to Hezbollah make it the most problematic situation for us.”

Sa’ar said he does not think Israel should be involved militarily in Syria, but if the US decided to remove Assad, it will be in Israel’s interest.

He praised the American attack on a Syrian base Friday morning, but said it was a pinpoint strike in response to Assad using chemical weapons and does not show an American strategy on Syria.

The former minister explained that the world lives in fear of radical Sunni Islam, because ISIS is behind most of the recent terrorist attacks in the world, but because Iran is the dominant military force funding terrorism in the region, is pursuing nuclear weapons and exports Islamic radicalism, Israel sees it as much more dangerous. He said that makes Israel’s focus on Iran different than that of the international community.

“We have to understand what our interests are, then persuade the world, which is not simple,” he said. “But the Trump administration sees the world differently than the Obama administration, which saw Iran as stabilizing the region.”

Asked whether he backed Netanyahu’s efforts to prevent Obama’s deal with Iran, he said he supported the prime minister’s decision to address Congress and warn against the agreement. But he suggested that perhaps the efforts should have ended once they were hopeless because of the importance of maintaining bipartisan US support for Israel.

“Once the deal was signed, I have my doubts as to whether continuing the struggle was the right thing to do,” he said. “Continuing to fight the deal once it was signed did not change anything, and it is doubtful we could have changed anything at that stage.”

Sa’ar lamented that a decision on attacking Iran did not reach the security cabinet between 2011 and 2013, when the geopolitical situation would have made it relatively easier. He now favors a regional security framework formalizing cooperation between Israel and its neighbors against the Iranian threat.

Israel has mutual strategic interests with Egypt and Jordan against Iran, Sa’ar said. He warned that those interests could be harmed by engaging in the Palestinian issue. Unlike Netanyahu, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Sa’ar is more cautious about using a regional approach to solving the Palestinian issue.

“A regional approach is just a slogan, so the question is what the content would be,” he said. “There are two options. If Jordan and Egypt take part in the solution – the approach can be constructive. But if the Arab countries back the Palestinians, pressure on Israel would grow and this would not serve Israel’s interests.”

Sa’ar said possible ideas for the Trump administration to consider would be a confederation of Jordan with the Palestinian Authority, and former national security council head Giora Eiland’s plan for regional exchanges of territories that includes expanding Palestinian-controlled territory into the Sinai Peninsula.

When asked what his advice would be to Trump, he said: “Israel needs to present new ideas, not the paradigm that has failed over the past 25 years. The negotiations didn’t just fail time after time, even after Israel presented generous offers.

The paradigm of a Palestinian state based on 67 lines and dividing Jerusalem cannot work. It’s not practical.

It won’t give the Palestinians a viable state or bring security to Israel.”

Sa’ar has been careful not to criticize Netanyahu since his return, following tradition in the Likud of respecting the party leader.

He went further on Sunday, saying that his comeback is not impacted by investigations of Netanyahu and that he hopes the current government can last its full term, which ends in November 2019.

“I said all along that I would return to politics within the Likud, and with elections taking place no later than 2019; I can’t come back 15 minutes before,” he said. “I have to work and that means journeying all over the country, presenting Likudniks and the general public with ideas and reforms I thought of during my break from politics.”

Sa’ar will soon begin in Haifa and he has already set 10 stops. He made his comeback speech in Acre to put an emphasis on helping those in the periphery, where he believes his ideas could improve the quality of life.

Although Sa’ar opposed the Likud’s decision to already select Netanyahu as its candidate in the next general election, he has accepted it and is preparing for the post-Netanyahu era, whenever it comes.

When Sa’ar announced his comeback, Lapid praised him and expressed hope they would work together in the future. But Sa’ar poured cold water over Lapid’s idea of heading a government that would include the Likud as a coalition partner in a government led by Yesh Atid.

“I don’t believe in Lapid’s path, and ideology is what matters,” he said. “The Likud must lead and Lapid, like others, cannot be ruled out as a partner for us. It is healthy that the Likud has tended to be either be in power or in the opposition.”

Asked if it bothers him how little he is known overseas compared to Lapid and others, Sa’ar said he will continue devoting most of his efforts to reaching out to Israelis.

“When I run for prime minister, I don’t know if Lapid will still be a candidate, but I have a higher chance of getting elected and forming a government than he does,” he said. “I have much wider support.

I  have the best chance of anyone to be the next prime minister.”

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6 Comments / 0 Comments

  1. More craziness. Giving these territories away means the IDF and Shin Bet can’t go in there. He should just shut up and sit in the back.

  2. And Israel, constantly being denounced by the UN, is going to be able to persuade them to act against Syria which has hardly been denounced at all? And, yet, he thinks continuing to oppose the Iran deal was wasted effort? What a moron.

  3. When asked what his advice would be to Trump, he said: “Israel needs to present new ideas, not the paradigm that has failed over the past 25 years. The negotiations didn’t just fail time after time, even after Israel presented generous offers.

    there is only ONE idea that can be acceptable by ISRAEL? u. n. charter article eighty. mandate as written into u. s. law 1922. or in plain speak * off America your part and parcel of the problem.

    ‘The Ugly American’ is a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer must be required reading by all yanks going into politics???????

  4. Why should we be interested in bringing down Assad?suppose that the rebels will win. Who is the replacement? Abu Sakar the Cannibal. both Assad and Abu Sakar declared time and again their wish to erase Israel from the face of the earth.One is treifah the other neveilah.
    Let them fight each others to death.The whole conflict is political and not religious, Surprise? Don’t be.So let’s just seat back and watch this self destruction process. The profecy has long been written
    “Thus saith the LORD concerning the three crimes of Damascus, and for four I will not answer”
    Let’s not interfere with divine justice.

  5. @ Sebastien Zorn:
    Not to mention control of airspace. In fact, “Autonomy on Steroids,” what Bennett is advocating, is what the PA and Hamas has now. They may be in there until hell freezes over now, but they were elected.
    It’s the degree of autonomy that’s the problem, or perhaps, any at all. If they are going to give them autonomy, Stephen Plaut’s proposal of dividing Pal villages into black or white list villages is the only way to disincentivize* violence. I have yet to hear anybody address his original and indispensible tweaking of all the other autonomy schemes:

    “…The villages and towns with the Arab reservations will be assigned to two lists, a white list and a black list. Those in the white list will manage their own affairs without interference from the Israeli central authorities. Residents of white-list towns may hold commuter jobs in Israeli cities and industrial parks. The local authorities in the white areas will manage their schools and other local institutions. They will collect their own taxes and may benefit from revenue sharing arrangements with the Israeli fiscal authorities, like other Israeli towns. They might be allowed to operate their own local police forces. Residents in white-listed areas will be fully and freely mobile, able to move freely within and among all white-list areas. They will be allowed to develop local industry and tourist services. Their residents will have access to Israel universities, health facilities, and other services.

    Those towns and villages in the black list will enjoy none of the above. Their residents will be denied the opportunity to hold day jobs in Israeli cities and industrial parks. They will have no access to Israeli services. They will have control over nothing. Their residents will be prevented from moving freely outside their reservation, except in cases where they wish to leave the country altogether. They will receive no shared revenues, no fiscal incentives.

    Villages and towns will be assigned to the two lists based entirely on one single factor: violence. Areas in which violence occurs, and this includes rock throwing, will be assigned to the black list. Areas in which violence is absent will be assigned to the white list. Towns and villages will be reassigned to the black list from the white list when terrorism, sniping, mortars, rockets, or other forms of violence occur there. Towns and villages in the black list will be assigned to the white list only when the local population cooperates fully with Israel in apprehending and arresting the terrorists and those engaged in violence, and takes other effective actions to end the violence. Otherwise they will remain on the black list indefinitely. Entry into black list areas will be denied to foreigners, journalists, and especially to the “International Solidarity” anarchists and their ilk. Any such anarchist infiltrating the areas of the black list will be denied permission to leave them and will remain there indefinitely, or else will be imprisoned by Israel.

    This of course leaves the dilemma of the Gaza Strip. As noted, because of the Israeli folly of withdrawing from and abandoning its control over the Gaza Strip, the area is now nothing more than a large rocket-launching terrorist base. I happen to believe that, in the long run, Israel will have no choice but to re-impose its complete control over the Gaza Strip.

    But for the immediate future, an Israeli unilateral set of moves will be necessary here as well. Basically these must consist of a three-pronged assault against Gaza the very first time that a rocket is launched into Israel from that territory. In this assault, Israel will seize a strip of land several kilometers wide that will divide the Gaza Strip from Egypt and this will end the massive smuggling of weapons, explosives, drugs and other materials into Gaza. The other two prongs will split Gaza into three smaller segments. Israel will control movement of people and materials among these segments. It will arrest and shoot terrorists on the spot. And eventually it may impose the system of reservations and the white-black lists upon Gaza as well.

    This is how Israel should respond to the declaration of war by the “Palestinians” in their unilateral declaration of statehood…”

    *I just invented a new word, quite possibly the longest word in the English language now:


    Hello, Guinness World Book of Records**

    When I was growing up, my mother loved to quote Bertrand Russell — who David Horowitz worked for, incidentally — in his invention of a great word: “Mimofant.”

    A mimofant is somebody who has the sensitivity of a mimosa when it comes to their own feelings and the insensitivity of an elephant when it comes to those of others. (Actually this is a blood-libel against elephants who are actually very sensitive creatures, but it’s a metaphor for which there is no other word, like lemming, lemmings don’t commit suicide, they were murdered for a fake news Walt Disney documentary and it entered the language. No such thing as mass-suicidal lemmings. Just Jews.

    Wan’t invited anywhere for Pesach this year and I don’t like wine, anyway, more of a beer person, so help me. Maybe I’ll go out for a Guinness, now. Guiness and Tequila. Now, that’ll be one for the record books.

    Mazeltov, y’all.

    Next Year, there should still be a Jerusalem

    “Dr Strangelove Major Kong Rides The Bomb 1080p”

    “Dr. Strangelove – Ending”

    Let’s eat.

    Or, as in my case:

    (wait for it)


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