Former 'Likud Prince' Begin Joins Netanyahu Challenger Sa'ar

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Benny Begin and Gideon Sa'ar, January 21, 2021.
Benny Begin and Gideon Sa'ar, January 21, 2021. Credit: New Hope Campaign

Benny Begin, former Likud minister and son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, announced Thursday that he would be joining Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope party ahead of Israel's election slated for March 23.

"In recent years and particularly over the last year, we have witnessed a strange and dangerous phenomenon," Begin said. "Crude, scathing attacks against Israel's governing institutions are coming straight from the government itself, of all places. This needs to stop, and the only way to stop it is through a change of leadership."

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"Therefore, I was glad when my friend Gideon decided to take the brave step of establishing a new political framework to bring about this change of leadership," Begin said.

Sa'ar said, "Benny Begin needs no introduction. Former Minister Begin will be an important addition to this campaign for the future of the nation." Sa'ar added, "It is important for Israel to benefit from the rich experience, understanding, judgement and values that he represents."

Former Prime Minister Menachem Begin (center) speaks at the Knesset Plenum, 1981. Credit: Hananya Herman

Begin is one of several Likud "princes," a group of moderate politicians who followed in their fathers' footsteps by joining the party.

A veteran politician, Begin is the son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and served as science minister under former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and as a minister with no portfolio under Netanyahu. In the 2012 Likud primary, Begin did not get enough votes to secure a seat in the Knesset, but returned to politics in 2015 with the Likud. He resigned from politics in 2019, after not seeking re-election.

Sa'ar, who has garnered significant support among Likud voters and is perceived as Netanyahu's rival, plans to form a center-right party. Sa'ar has been joined by former Likud lawmakers Ze'ev Elkin, Michal Shir and Sharren Haskel, as well as Yifat Shasha-Biton, who was a representative for Kulanu on the Likud slate. Sa'ar has also been joined by Zvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel from Derech Eretz. 

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