New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar issued an unprecedented attack on Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett on Monday morning, the day after Bennett signed a document ruling out joining a government led by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Both Sa’ar and Bennett had made commitments more than a month ago to not sit in a Lapid-led government. Sources close to Bennett said he had changed nothing by putting the vow in print.
But Sa’ar took advantage of the letter to criticize his rival for votes on the right and accuse Bennett of making an alliance with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“Now it is already clear, several meters before the finish line: Bennett collapsed into the arms of Netanyahu amid lies and political spin created by his master,” Sa’ar wrote on social media. “He failed in leadership. He failed in standing under pressure.”
Sources close to Sa’ar said he was angry at Bennett’s attacks on him the day before, when he called New Hope “a fad party that will soon disappear” and “a list of defectors from other parties.”
Bennett’s associates downplayed the letter, saying its only headline was its second part, in which Bennett promised not to form a government using the votes of Ra’am party head Mansour Abbas.
Lapid also said he was not concerned about Bennett’s letter.
“There is a difference between Bennett on [the media] and Bennett in private,” Lapid told Kan Radio.