Israeli Minister Denies Talks With Netanyahu on Alternative Coalition

Gideon Sa'ar calls reports a 'false propaganda campaign,' but does not rule out serving in a coalition with the leader of the opposition

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Haaretz
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Gideon Sa'ar at a New Hope meeting, this week.
Gideon Sa'ar at a New Hope meeting, this week.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
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Haaretz

Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar denied on Wednesday that he was in talks with Likud and its chairman, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, about the prospect of forming a government together in the current Knesset session should the coalition collapse.

In interviews aired on the country's three main news broadcasts, Sa'ar said "there are and were no negotiations with Likud." However, Sa'ar refrained from clearly promising that he would not serve in a coalition that includes Netanyahu.

Over the past few days, political sources have reported that Housing Minister Zeev Elkin, a member of the New Hope party that Sa'ar leads, has been in contact with Yaakov Atrakchi, a close associate of Netanyahu.

Denying the reports, Sa'ar said: "My position has not changed. A false propaganda campaign is being waged." He said neither he nor Elkin had been in any talks, although "not a week goes by without emissaries [of opposition parties] coming to us."

Later Wednesday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was expected to convene a meeting with the heads of coalition parties to address a divisive vote on renewing the regulation that makes Israeli citizens in the West Bank subject to Israeli law.

The coalition government headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett holds 60 of the Knesset's 120 seats, after Idit Silman, a member of Bennett's Yamina party, quit in April. Last month, Meretz lawmaker Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi announced that she was leaving the coalition, but reversed her decision a few days later.

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