Bennett Takes First Swipe at Saar

Gideon Saar speaks to supporters in Rishon Lezion, Israel December 26, 2019. (REUTERS/Amir Cohen/File Photo)

Yamina party leader Naftali Bennett took his first swipe at his new rival, Gideon Saar, who announced Tuesday night that he is leaving Likud to start his own party because the Likud has become “a personality cult” of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and the country needs new leadership.

“The political system and the media have a crazy obsession,” Bennett said during a plenum session in the Knesset.

“Yes Bibi, No Bibi…You don’t set up a party for that,” he declared.

Bennett, who has quadrupled his five-seat party’s standing in the polls since March chiefly by criticizing Netanayahu, will now have to fight to keep his supporters away from Saar, who also has a strong rightwing following.

Meanwhile, the first poll out since Saar’s announcement showed his New Hope party winning 17 seats, which would make it No. 3 in the country after Likud and Yamina and upsetting the electoral calculations of both.

The instant online poll was conducted by Panels Politics and published Wednesday morning by Radio 103FM.

If new elections were held today, the poll found, the Likud would drop from its current 36 seats to 25, Yamina from 22 to 19, Yesh Atid-Telem from 18 to 14, Joint Arab List from 15 to 11, Shas and United Torah Judaism steady at 9 and 7 respectively, and Meretz down from 6 to 5. Blue and White, which currently has 15, was down to a mere 6.

According to Arutz Sheva, Saar would siphon votes from both the right-wing and left-wing blocs, with the Right falling from 67 seats in the previous poll to 60 seats, and the left-wing – Arab bloc falling from 45 seats to 36.

In a second poll, released by Kan on Wednesday night, Saar made an even stronger showing, with 18 seats, making it the No. 2 party after Likud with 25.

Yamina was projected to receive 17 seats; Yesh Atid 15; Joint List 11; Shas 8; Blue and White 7; United Torah Judaism 7; Yisrael Beytenu 6; and Meretz 6.

In the event that Saar’s New Hope combined with Yamina could win 32 seats versus 26 for Likud, according to the poll.

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