Outgoing Likud No. 2 Sa'ar says rift with Netanyahu contributed to decision to quit politics

According to Channel 2, Netanyahu was enraged by Sa’ar’s refusal to back his controversial proposal to postpone the date of presidential elections, which were held earlier this summer.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
September 19, 2014 20:10
1 minute read.
Gideon Sa'ar and Geula Even

Gideon Sa'ar (L) and his wife, Channel 1 newscaster Geula Even.. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

Outgoing Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s contentious relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu contributed to his surprise resignation this week, the former confirmed in interviews with Israeli television on Friday.

Sa’ar, who was seen in Israeli political circles as the eventual heir apparent to Netanyahu within the Likud, told both Channel 2 and Channel 10 that the two men have not been on speaking terms in the past few months.

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According to Channel 2, Netanyahu was enraged by Sa’ar’s refusal to back his controversial proposal to postpone the date of presidential elections, which were held earlier this summer.

The prime minister sought to push back the poll since he had no intention of supporting the Likud’s candidate – and eventual winner – Reuven Rivlin. Needing more time to field a candidate that he could back, the premier sought to muster support for a postponement. Under pressure from party functionaries, Netanyahu reluctantly reversed course and formally endorsed Rivlin.

According to Channel 2, Netanyahu and Sa’ar held a tense phone conversation that marked the beginning of the end of their relationship.

“How could you do that to me?” Netanyahu asked his interior minister. “How could you come out against me like that?”

“You didn’t consult me about your decision, and in any event it would not have changed my mind,” Sa’ar responded. “This has nothing to do with Rivlin.”

“I’ll remember this,” the prime minister said.

In light of the rift between the two men, Sa’ar is believed to have come to the conclusion that as long as Netanyahu was premier, he had little chance of being named to one of two of the most coveted portfolios in Israeli politics – foreign minister or defense minister.

Sa’ar has been the subject of media scrutiny in Israel this past week, particularly due to his high-profile marriage with Channel 1 newscaster Geula Even.

The outgoing minister has said that his marriage to Even and the recent birth of their son also weighed heavily in his decision to step aside from political life.


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