Gideon Sa’ar: If I were Netanyahu, I would resign

Internal Likud Party struggles come amid increasing tension between the prime minister and his and allies against primary challenger Gideon Sa’ar.

 Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference;Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2019  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST/ SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference;Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2019
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST/ SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)
The fight for leadership of the Likud Party heated up Tuesday morning, as various party members have begun accusing main primary challenger Gideon Sa’ar of  going against the interests of the party amid the legal woes of its leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the threat of a third election. 
The internal fight within the party grew more tense following comments and interviews given by Sa’ar, in which he said that Netanyahu he should be held accountable, "not because of the indictment, but because of his inability to form a government and his reluctance to follow the democratic process."
Sa’ar added that "anyone who is in political life, [knows] that it is somewhat detrimental to the quality of his life – that is the deal. For many years in [my] political life, I knew where I was going and also why I was coming in. I care about the state and that overrides  everything else. I don't complain."
Regarding his perspective on Netanyahu's years of leadership as head of the Likud, Sa’ar said that “I worked with him on [the basis of] mutual respect, [and] backed him up at every stage of the investigations, police recommendations and election campaigns. We even dispersed the Knesset as he wished. [While] Likud wants the success of the party, [nothing] is more important than the people and the state. Of course, if the Likud members want him to lead them then I will respect that.”
When asked about how he would form a government if he wins the Likud primaries, Sa’ar responded that there are personal barriers between Netanyahu and other party leaders. “All of this has led to the situation we are currently facing with [the support of] 55 MKs.” 
Sa’ar also claimed that he will be able to form a government by convincing other parties on the Right to join a Likud-led government under his leadership, including Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Telem (a faction currently within the Blue and White Party), and the Labor Party, who he says did not disqualify working with the Likud. 
Numerous Likud MKs responded to Sa’ar comments. Miri Regev, an ardent Netanyahu ally, issued a strong condemnation of Sa'ar, saying that the latter "made a big mistake." 
In an interview with Kan Bet, Regev elaborated, saying that she "thinks that Gideon made a big mistake – he attacked fellow party members. I hope that he strengthens the Likud, and does not split it - and does not work to put a knife in Netanyahu's back.”
Foreign Minister Israel Katz, another Netanyahu ally, strongly attacked Sa'ar's remarks in a statement to Likud activists. Katz wrote that "MK Gideon Sa'ar's personal attacks on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during this sensitive and personal test, calls for his resignation. This is a redline of membership in the Likud.” 
Likud's officials also responded, saying that "it is a shame that Gideon Sa'ar did not listen to the Likud activists who made it clear yesterday - 'The Likud is a family and a non-traitor family.'"

Maariv Online contributed to this report.