Netanyahu Challenger Saar Facing Threats

YERUSHALAYIM -
Senior member of the Likud party, Gideon Saar. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Senior Likud MK Gideon Saar said on Monday that his advocacy of early leadership primaries has made him a target of villification.

“I am forced to go through a campaign of incitement and libel against me and my family, including threats of violence,” Saar said on Channel 2.

“Those who follow me on social networks see that I keep receiving threats of violence,” he continued. “None of this will deter me from doing the right thing for the Likud and the state.”

Nor is it anything new for the former minister. “For years, campaigns of libel have been led against me. None of it scares me. I sleep well at night and I know my family and I will have to go through a lot of slander. I knew it when I got back into politics.”

Saar, an avowed candidate to succeed Prime Minister Binyamin as leader of the Likud, has been publicly urging a party vote on whether the latter should continue as chairman before December 11, when the 21-day period expires for the Knesset to choose a member to form a government. If Saar or another MK should be chosen by Likud to replace Netanyahu, there would still be time to work out a deal with Blue and White and avert another election.

On Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly agreed to hold primaries within six weeks, but probably not by December 11.

Saar also asserted on Monday that, unlike Netanyahu, “I’ll be able to form a government in the current Knesset and unite the country.”

“Netanyahu has tremendous achievements to his name,” acknowledged Saar, who served as cabinet secretary in Netanyahu’s first government in the 1990s and later as education minister, in an interview with Kan public radio.

“He led the fight against the country’s slide down the slippery slope of [the] Oslo [peace process]. That’s why I supported him even when we got just 12 seats [in the 2006 elections], and followed him in countless elections.”

But “today he’s politically untenable. He can’t form a government, and unfortunately, won’t be able to do so even after a third election. I know it’s hard, but he has to realize that.”