Saar Rejects Left Label; Erdan Endorses Netanyahu

YERUSHALAYIM -
Gideon Saar at Likud headquarters in Tel Aviv. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Likud MK Gideon Saar has joined Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz as one of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s leftist opponents—at least according to PM Netanyahu.

‏‏“Saar’s spin unfortunately attests that he has gotten in line with the left and the media to remove him from leading the country,” Netanyahu’s campaign headquarters said on Tuesday.

“This is not the time for division in Likud, but rather to unite around Netanyahu.”

The attack on Saar came after he offered to back Netanyahu for Israeli’s presidency after he leaves office, though Saar acknowledged that the PM would not accept it.

Incumbent President Reuven Rivlin’s term ends in July 2021. The president, who is chosen by Knesset members to a seven-year-term, has immunity from prosecution under Israeli law.

Saar dismissed the “baseless” attacks by the Netanyahu campaign, saying: “Likud members already understand that without change in the Likud leadership, after the [March 2] elections, a left-wing government will be established,” Saar responded on Twitter.

Meanwhile on Tuesday evening, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan came out for Netanyahu against Saar in this Thursday’s Likud party leadership contest.

“As a member of the security cabinet, I am very familiar with the tremendous challenges we face… and therefore, after taking into account all the considerations, I’ve arrived at the conclusion Prime Minister Netanyahu is the most fitting person to continue to lead Likud,” Erdan said in a video statement.

The endorsement ended weeks of speculation about which side the senior Likud politician would take, if either.

“Happy Purim,” Erdan concluded, apparently confusing it with Hanukkah.