Former interior minister Gideon Sa'ar..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Six months after he announced that he was leaving politics with great fanfare, former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar returned to political activity on Monday night, speaking at a Likud rally at the party’s branch in Holon.
A poll in Friday’s Jerusalem Post found that if Sa’ar led Likud, the party would do better than under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sa’ar would be seen as a top candidate to head the Likud if Netanyahu loses the March 17 election and quits politics.
But Sa’ar boosted the Likud in his speech, wholeheartedly endorsing the party.
“To leave a job is not to leave a party,” he said. “It’s just leaving a job. Parties face tests, and we are facing a test.
This is a time to draft oneself for the party.”
Sa’ar made fun of the Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog for blaming Netanyahu for a recent incident on a flight when a woman screamed at a steward who would not give her chocolate. He warned of the danger of a victory by Herzog, who has said repeatedly that if he won, he would go to Ramallah and address the Palestinian parliament in an effort to advance peace.
“The parliament in Ramallah has a majority for Hamas,” Sa’ar said. “Isaac Herzog, did Hamas invite you to go there? If so, tell us. Giving our enemies the gift of our land would result in it being used as a base to attack our citizens. We in the Likud must prevent this.”
Holon Likud branch head Shabtai Yosef greeted Sa’ar by saying “he did not come back. He was a Likudnik, is a Likudnik, and always will be a Likudnik.”
Former Likud minister Bennie Begin said at the event that despite what he called a “smear campaign” by Herzog, thanks to Netanyahu, the entire world was now talking about an Iranian threat and a “deal that would be very dangerous for the entire world.”
Channel 2 reported that Yisrael Beytenu Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir would endorse the Likud. Former Yisrael Beytenu deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon has also said he would vote Likud.
Herzog told Army Radio Monday that he decided not to go to Washington, because he “didn’t want to be part of a show that would not help prevent the nuclearization of Iran.”
Speaking at a Tel Aviv press conference in which he announced the platform of his Yesh Atid party, Yair Lapid warned that Netanyahu’s speech would harm the security interests of Israel and the struggle against a nuclear Iran.
“Until Netanyahu began the unnecessary and irresponsible fight with the president of the United States and the American security establishment, the coordination between the two countries was Israel’s top strategic asset,” he said. “The way the visit was planned, like thieves in the night behind the back of the White House and the Democrats, could result in there not being further sanctions on Iran.”
The 273-page platform calls for a regional diplomatic accord to bring about separation between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, in which Israel keeps the major settlement blocs and strict security measures guarantee Israel’s right to act to defend itself against any terrorist threat without limitations.
Chapters of the platform on foreign affairs, security, the economy, religion and state, aliya and the environment were translated into English and posted on the party’s website.
“Translating the platform into English was an enormous effort but well worth it,” US-born MK Dov Lipman said. “Knowing that we will providing tens of thousands of English speaking voters with such access and awareness before going to the polls makes all the time and effort worthwhile.”