Gideon Sa'ar Pledges Not to Join Netanyahu-led Government

Latest opinion polls show party led by PM's former ally could prevent Netanyahu from forming government if Israel goes to election

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Gideon Sa'ar giving a statement to the press, Ashdod, December 2020.
Gideon Sa'ar giving a statement to the press, Ashdod, December 2020.Credit: Ilan Assayag

Gideon Sa'ar will not join a government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the former senior Likud figure said in a televised interview on Saturday. 

"Whoever wants Netanyahu to continue to be prime minister should not vote for me because I will under no circumstances support him," Sa'ar told Israel's Channel 13 News. The former lawmaker, who quit Likud and resigned from the Knesset earlier this week, added: "If Netanyahu becomes the next prime minister, I will sit in the opposition."

Three opinion polls published last week showed that a political formation led by Sa'ar could throw the electoral process in upheaval and possibly prevent Netanyahu from forming a government.

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In the interview, Sa'ar criticized Netanyahu, saying: "When did we start disrespecting others in such a way that every person who thinks differently politically is the enemy? Today there is a dangerous process underway, and Netanyahu is a major contributor to this process, he can not prevent it and I doubt he wants to prevent it".

Asked if he would invite Netanyahu to join his government, Sa'ar replied that he did not discount an alliance with his former home, Likud, but clarified: "There is a problem for a minister facing legal proceedings, and Likud will have to consider this. I will not support laws created for one person."

In his resignation speech, given on Tuesday evening, Gideon Sa'ar said he could "no longer support a government led by Netanyahu or  be a member of his party."

"The Likud has increasingly and dramatically changed its path in recent years. The movement has become a tool to serve the interests of the prime minister, including those related to his criminal trial," Sa'ar charged.

In an interview on News 12, Sa'ar explained that he was leaving Likud because he failed to recognize himself in the party: "I listen to my friends speaking in the media and on the Knesset dais, and I ask myself: 'What do I have to do with any of it?'" 

Sa'ar has challenged Netanyahu for leadership of the party in the past, and lost.

In the News 13 interview, Sa'ar also mentioned that he was opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, saying that he sees "the establishment of an Arab state in the heart of the Land of Israel as a danger to the state." He added that he wholeheartedly supports annexation: "The systematic application of sovereignty should be applied to the Jordan Valley, certainly, and not only." 

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