Gideon Saar’s right-wing New Hope party got support from a surprising direction on Thursday as an MK from the left-wing Meretz said they would be willing to sit in a coalition headed by Saar if it meant ousting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Asked on Kan public radio if Meretz could work with Saar, MK Yair Golan said: “Unequivocally yes. The first thing to do is to eradicate corruption from among us. Corruption is what is destroying the country, and Netanyahu is undoubtedly a fundamentally corrupt person.”
“We will sit in any government” that is able to restore “the State of Israel to its basic human values,” Golan said.
Saar and a number of candidates on the New Hope slate are former members of Likud, which has been at the opposite end of the political spectrum for decades.
However, a senior Meretz source subsequently told Haaretz that the party will not recommend Netanyahu, Saar, or Naftali Bennett for prime minister in post-election consultations with President Reuven Rivlin and that Golan was only speaking hypothetically.
Still, that seemed to leave open the possibility that, in the event Saar would be tapped by Rivlin to form a government with other parties, Meretz might join.
When asked about possible combinations with Labor, Yamina and Yisrael Beytenu, however, Golan said that “unifications should be discussed after the elections, not before the elections.”
Though Meretz has been in the low single-digits in recent polling, he said he was confident that the party will clear the electoral threshold with at least the minimal 4 seats.
Meanwhile, former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah announced that his new Tnufa party is withdrawing from the race, after a proposed merger with Labor fell through and polls predict it won’t pass the electoral threshold.
“I made every effort for an alliance with Labor to succeed. It did not happen, and not because of any demand on my part,” he said. “Under these circumstances, I must do what I promised many and prevent a loss of votes for the camp seeking to replace Netanyahu.
Also on Thursday, MK David Bitan of Likud, who was hospitalized for weeks in serious condition in December after contracting Covid-19, has been released from Shiba Medical Center and was deemed well enough to make the filing for Likud at the Central Elections Committee on Thursday evening.
Updated Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 12:23 pm .