Benjamin Netanyahu with Gideon Sa'ar..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suffered a political blow Tuesday, when a poll found that he is no longer the Likud Party’s most favored candidate for prime minister.
The Testnet poll found that if elections were held now with Netanyahu heading the Likud, Yesh Atid would win 29 seats and Likud 27.
But if former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar heads the party, it would tie with Yesh Atid, with 29 seats.
There was also good news for Netanyahu in the poll.
Among Likud members, 68% see Netanyahu as the candidate most fit to be prime minister and only 13% said Sa’ar, while 6% said Transportation Minister Israel Katz and 3% said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan. Among the general public, Netanyahu leads with 23%, followed by Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid with 18%, Sa’ar with 11%, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett with 5% and 4% each for Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman and Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog. Thirty- five percent said they do not know.
The poll was based on the opinions of 612 respondents representing statistic sample of the Israeli population and had a margin of error of 4.1%.
Sa’ar returned to politics with great fanfare Monday at a speech in Acre’s Likud branch, where he was warmly welcomed by Likud activists.
But an activist loyal to Netanyahu sharply criticized him Tuesday.
“We want everyone back, but we don’t like hypocritical people,” Alisya Asyag told The Jerusalem Post. “Sa’ar should not try to advance himself personally by riding on the back of Netanyahu after all the times he criticized him.”
Asyag wrote in Likud WhatsApp groups that Sa’ar criticized the Likud in the press, so when he returned to politics he should not be praised.
“A real Likudnik maintains his natural home, which is his party and its leader, and does not run to the press to attack and throw mud for good headlines,” she wrote.