Israel Election: Sa’ar Rules Out Joining Netanyahu-led Government After Reports of Negotiations

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

New Hope Chairman Gideon Sa’ar told his party Monday that he would not join a coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a possibility he also ruled out in the run-up to the March election.

“Israel does not need more days and years of rule by Netanyahu,” Sa’ar said at a New Hope faction meeting. “Quite the opposite.”

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Sa’ar’s remark came after reports last week that he was entertaining the prospect of forming a power-sharing government with Netanyahu, with Religious Zionism Chairman Bezalel Smotrich mediating between the two.

Meanwhile, Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid is trying to reach agreements with other parties that are against forming a government with Netanyahu, with nine days left until Lapid’s mandate to form a coalition expires.

Lapid told a Yesh Atid meeting that he will continue to try and form a government, although the chances of success are low. “In the coming days we will do everything to form a government,” Lapid said, adding that although the odds were against him, “as long as there is a chance, even the tiniest one, we will leave no stone unturned in order to form a government.”

Lapid hopes to sign agreements by the end of the week with Labor, Kahol Lavan, Meretz and Yisrael Beiteinu. Lapid’s party believes that New Hope will likely balk at forming a government with Lapid at this point.

But Yesh Atid members also think that Yamina’s Naftali Bennett could possibly be tempted to join a so-called rotation government with Lapid because of Bennett’s faltering negotiations with Netanyahu’s Likud and the threat of running in an election without Yamina fixture Ayelet Shaked, which could leave the chairman at a disadvantage.

In any case, such a government would still need the support of Mansour Abbas’ Islamist United Arab List party. During the latest round of hostilities in Gaza, Abbas said that he would rejoin coalition talks once the fighting stopped, but has yet to make a clear statement on the matter.

Labor and Yesh Atid said in a joint statement on Monday that their “negotiating teams have made a significant progress and understandings have been reached on many issues. The teams will continue holding talks in the aim of reaching agreements to form a government.” Kahol Lavan and Yisrael Beiteinu also said Monday that they were making progress in talks with Yesh Atid.

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