(photo credit: Courtesy)
Former minister Gideon Sa’ar fiercely defended himself on Thursday from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accusations that he is planning to topple him after the 2019 Knesset race.
Speaking at his birthday party at the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday, Netanyahu said he is concerned that after the election, President Reuven Rivlin would ask a different Likud MK to form the government. Without mentioning Sa’ar by name, Netanyahu said a former minister in the Likud had been speaking to officials in the coalition about a move for the minister to form the next government.
“The prime minister has decided to accuse me of a false slander,” Sa’ar told Army Radio. “I am sorry the prime minister chose this path. It is not good for the Likud. It harms the party. It puts poison in its veins. I call on the prime minister to provide proof for the public or take it back.”
“I realized I am approaching the status of 'opponent of the regime,'” Sa’ar said sarcastically. “I told my wife [anchorwoman Geula Even-Sa’ar] we aren’t going to any consulate in the days ahead.”
Sa'ar was referring to Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after criticizing his country's regime.
Sa’ar fiercely denied Netanyahu’s charges that he had discussed replacing him with Rivlin or any Likud figures. He said he was and will remain loyal to Netanyahu. The former minister continued by accusing the prime minister of “court martialing” him without a trial, much like the press has done to Netanyahu in his corruption cases.
Netanyahu's attack proved Sa'ar's strength in the Likud, the former minister said, adding, "No one kicks a dead lion.”
Sources close to the prime minister said that Sa’ar's "hysterical response" and criticism prove he is undermining Netanyahu. Sources said the response also proved that Sa'ar tried to topple Netanyahu against the will of Likud voters, and out of an appetite for power was not careful enough when privately revealing his plans.
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