Netanyahu Rival Sa'ar to Review Ties With Lincoln Project Following Sexual Harassment Allegations

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New Hope party leader Gideon Sa'ar attending a protest of doctors at private hospitals during his election campaign, January 2021.
New Hope party leader Gideon Sa'ar attending a protest of doctors at private hospitals during his election campaign, January 2021.Credit: Emil Salman

A leading challenger to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in elections next month said Tuesday that he is reviewing his ties with the founders of the Lincoln Project — a Republican group that opposed former U.S. President Donald Trump and whose leadership has been engulfed in a sexual harassment scandal.

Israel’s New Hope party, headed by Netanyahu’s former Likud party rival Gideon Sa'ar, hired several consultants from the Lincoln Project in January as campaign advisers in Israel’s upcoming parliamentary election.

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Last week, revelations surfaced that the Lincoln Project knew about allegations of sexual harassment involving John Weaver, one of its co-founders, several months before acknowledging them publicly.

New Hope said that it had never worked directly with the Lincoln Project or Weaver, rather it had engaged four consultants from the organization: co-founders Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson, Stuart Stevens and Reed Galen. Schmidt resigned from the Lincoln Project last week.

“In any event, due to financial considerations, the contract with the consultants is under review, and in the coming days, we will examine the possibility of further cooperation,” the party said.

Sa'ar’s New Hope party, a hard-line nationalist faction made up mostly of former Netanyahu allies, seeks to unseat the longtime prime minister in the March 23 vote, Israel’s fourth parliamentary election in four years. Saar charges that Likud has become the party of Netanyahu and has lost direction.

Recent public opinion polls give Sa'ar a projected 13 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, Israel’s parliament, enough to pose an obstacle to Netanyahu’s formation of a stable governing coalition.

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