Netanyahu Rival Sa'ar's Party Aims to Encourage West Bank Settlement, Defend 'Jewish Nation-state'

Sa'ar formally registers his new party, which polls predict could become Israel's second biggest

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Gideon Sa'ar during a visit to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem on December 16, 2020.
Gideon Sa'ar during a visit to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem on December 16, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Gideon Sa'ar, who broke away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party last week, formally registered on Thursday his new political party, whose aims include "encouraging settlement" in the West Bank and "protecting [Israel's] values as the nation-state of the Jewish people, which maintains human rights."

Recent election polls predict the new party, registered as "New Hope – Unity for Israel," would be the Knesset's second-largest after Likud should Israel hold an election. Lawmakers are expected to miss a Tuesday deadline to pass the 2020 state budget, automatically dissolving parliament and sending Israelis to the polls for the fourth time in two years.

How COVID – and Israel’s Trump-brokered lovefest with Arab states – are affecting PalestiniansCredit: Haaretz

According to the formal application filed with the Israeli registrar of political parties, New Hope would "encourage settlement and agriculture in the Galilee and the Negev, in Samaria and Judea, from the Golan Heights and through the Jordan [Valley] and the Arava."

It would also work to "fulfill the Jewish people's natural and historic rights in the Land of Israel," the document states.

The party also aims to "promote reforms in all state authorities, including law enforcement, judiciary and form of government," and work for a liberal economy "while ensuring fair opportunities for all." Finally, it emphasizes the need to improve Israel's education system.

On Tuesday, Sa’ar announced that Likud lawmaker Yifat Shasha-Biton would be joining his party, and be given the second slot on its election slate, after him. Should Sa'ar become prime minister, she would serve as his deputy and head a ministerial committee on social issues.

Also joining Sa'ar's new party are Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who ran with Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party in Israel's last election, but then split to form their own Derech Eretz faction. They formally endorsed Sa'ar last week, prompting Gantz to relieve Hendel of his ministerial duties.

On Saturday, Sa'ar said in an interview with Channel 13 News that he would not join a Netanyahu-led government. "Whoever wants Netanyahu to continue to be prime minister should not vote for me, because I will under no circumstances support him," he said.

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