(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)
Former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar called for the party to avoid extremism, in a comeback event in Or Yehuda on Wednesday.
“The Likud has always been statesmanlike; we learned this from [former prime minister] Menachem Begin,” Sa’ar said.
“The Likud can’t drop to the margins. We must respect the IDF, Shin Bet and the judiciary.”
Sa’ar added that differences of opinion “do not turn our brothers into enemies, even if they are mistaken.... Unity of Israel is an important value.”
Following this advice is not just the right thing to do, it will also get the Likud more votes, he posited.
Sa’ar, who has led numerous polls that asked who should lead the Likud after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held the pre-Rosh Hashana toast at an events hall in Or Yehuda packed with hundreds of Likudniks, but only two backbencher MKs, Amir Ohana and Sharren Haskel.
Many attendees took photos in front of a banner with Sa’ar’s face on it, which were then printed on magnets for them to take home.
The hall was adorned with banners bearing the slogan “A strong Likud for the future of Israel,” similar to Netanyahu’s 1999 campaign slogan “A strong leader for the future of Israel.” In a similarly prime ministerial touch, Sa’ar took the stage with the Likud jingle playing in the background.
Sa’ar announced his return to politics earlier this year, nearly three years after he took a break, which he said was to spend more time with his family, but was widely thought to be a result of a growing rift with Netanyahu.
Despite this, he paid tribute to the “long way we’ve come together” with Netanyahu, starting with his time as the prime minister’s cabinet secretary in 1999, and saying that their “disagreements didn’t change the important fact that we believe in the same way.”
As for the investigations of corruption allegations against the prime minister, Sa’ar said: “People shouldn’t be judged in social media or the headlines or the town square. There is the judiciary, and only they have the authority to decide. The prime minister has the right to what every citizen gets.”
Much of Sa’ar’s speech combined usual political talking points with references to his political curriculum vitae.
Sa’ar talked about the Oslo Accords as a failure, and said “the homeland isn’t a burden that we want to find ways to get rid of. The opposite is true.
We have to fight for all territory in the Land of Israel.... We don’t just have an interest in it, we have a just demand to it, based on the Book of Books and international law.”
In that vein, he recounted how, as education minister, he instructed schools to visit the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Sa’ar also discussed the thousands of migrant workers living in south Tel Aviv, calling them “infiltrators,” a popular term on the Right, and mentioned his policies to remove them, as well as “aggressive, dynamic initiatives... steps we can take right now to change things from one extreme to the other.”