Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar defended President Reuven Rivlin from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attacks on him on Wednesday at a Hebrew-language conference in Tel Aviv that was sponsored by The Jerusalem Post Group, the parent company of the Maariv newspaper and the Post.Netanyahu said in a taped conversation with Likud activists that was revealed by Channel 12 that Rivlin “is just looking for an excuse” to appoint Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to form the government.
Sa’ar, who was the campaign manager of Rivlin when he was elected president in December 2014, said Rivlin “will make his decision and fulfil his role in a statesmanlike manner no matter how things play out.”In his answers to questions from Maariv columnists, Sa’ar said Israel needs more ambitious goals in the Gaza Strip than Netanyahu’s current government has had. He said he favors demilitarizing the strip.“I have issued criticism over the past years on the policies regarding the Gaza Strip, and I have not changed my mind,” Sa’ar said. “Since the 1980s, Israel has leaned against going to wars of choice, and that undoubtedly also reflects the views of the current prime minister. But I don’t think we will be able to go on for long with the suffering of the residents of the South.”Criticizing Gantz, Sa’ar said: “I don’t remember an election in which a candidate who presented himself as an alternative did not provide an alternative on any key issue. He has tried to hide his views on key issues and say ridiculously that there is no Right or Left.”
Gideon Sa'ar at The Jerusalem Post elections conference, April 3rd, 2019 (Credit: Ronen Shamir)