Attempt to overthrow Netanyahu in Likud begins

Gantz begins drafting majority to form government.

Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference.
Likud leadership candidate Gideon Sa’ar further challenged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday saying that he – unlike Netanyahu – could build a coalition.
Sa’ar called for setting a Likud leadership primary date, which he lamented was overdue many years and said it is required by the Likud’s constitution.
“I think the necessary thing to do... is to set a Likud leadership primary,” Sa’ar said at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference. “I think I will be able to form a government, and I think I will be able to unify the country and the nation.”
Another leading Likud figure told KAN News that following the indictments, he also decided to seek the Likud leadership.
After the indictments, Blue and White reiterated that they would not join a Netanyahu coalition and started collecting signatures for party leader Benny Gantz to form a government. The charges came a day after Gantz returned his mandate to form a government, and the first day of a three-week period in which any MK could be drafted with a Knesset majority.
“There is concern – whether or not the charges prove to be true or without merit – that Netanyahu will make decisions in his own personal interest and for his political survival and not in the national interest,” the party said.
Likud MK Miki Zohar said on social media on Thursday: “We knew that the attorney-general will not be able to stand up to the pressure turned toward him.” He pointed at State Attorney Shai Nitzan as the one who “fought with all his might” to have the prime minister indicted “at all costs.”
“We will not be silent,” Zohar said. “We will not quit.”
Before Mandelblit’s announcement on Thursday, Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein scolded Israel’s politicians for enabling the country to have two elections and a possible third race in March. Rivlin officially informed Speaker Edelstein that both Netanyahu and Gantz failed to build a coalition.
“I asked you to set aside your election swords and clean away the dirt,” Rivlin said. “I told you that political considerations must no longer be what solely guides you. You must show awareness of our sovereignty, statesmanship and responsibility for the people of this dear land.”
Addressing the MKs, Rivlin said their political fates matter less than the daily lives of the average citizen.
“During these 21 days, consider your obligation to the people,” he said.
Edelstein reminded the MKs that he begged them to cancel the last election. He said MKs told him it was needed because there would be dramatically different results.
“They weren’t different and neither would a third or fourth race,” he said.
This message was repeated to different population sectors by Edelstein: “No one wants additional elections!” He asked the public to pressure the MKs to prevent a third election.
Tamar Beeri and Hagay HaCohen contributed to this report.