Israel Elections: Sa’ar: I won’t sit in a Netanyahu led government

Sa’ar has insisted that he will not sit with Netanyahu, who will likely be given the first shot to form a government.

New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar votes in March 2021 elections. (photo credit: YOAV DAVIDKOVITZ)
New Hope leader Gideon Sa'ar votes in March 2021 elections.
(photo credit: YOAV DAVIDKOVITZ)
New Hope party head Gideon Sa’ar discounted the possibility he would help breathe life into a right-wing government, when he pledged late Tuesday night not to sit in a coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“It is important to stress, we will stand by our commitment not to enter a government headed by Netanyahu,” Sa’ar said in a brief speech to his supporters upon receiving the disappointing news from initial polls that his party would only receive five or six Knesset seats.
It was a far cry from the initial 20 seats he had been projected to receive when he first left the Likud party in December to form New Hope. Back then he was touted as a prime ministerial hopeful, someone who could replace Netanyahu.
Bloomberg named him one of the top eight people to watch globally in 2021. But as additional promising candidates entered the field, he began to lose votes in a slow slide. Despite this, Sa’ar continued to maintain, even into the final hours, that he was a prime ministerial alternative to Netanyahu.
The results of Tuesday’s election, however, put Saar out of contention to replace Netanyahu in any of the politicking that will now occur as the spotlight moves from the election to the question of whether a government can be formed.
He has, however, almost no ideological link to parties that centrist politician Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid will now attempt to cement into a coalition, should he be given a chance to form a coalition.
Yet Saar as of Tuesday night said he planned to support Lapid. It’s a decision that could have fateful results as initial election results did not necessarily give Netanyahu a clear 61 mandates needed to form a coalition.
“If Netanyahu will form a government we will serve the nation from the opposition,” Sa’ar said.
In talking to his supporters on Tuesday night Sa’ar attempted to put a positive spin his party’s low results, as he argued that New Hope had kept Netanyahu from having an easy coalition of 65 mandates.
“If new Hope had not been created, Netanyahu would already have 65 mandates of more,” Sa’ar said.
“When I started the party, I didn’t have anything in my pocket,” he said, explaining that New Hope was built from nothing into something. During the three-month campaign, “we did the best we could in conditions that were not easy,” Sa’ar said.
He pledged that he would build New Hope into the large party it was intended to be.
“We will prepare New Hope for the long haul, as a liberal national party,” said Sa’ar adding that the party would head a new movement that would safeguard both Israel and its democracy.
As he spoke some of his supporters broke into song, chanting “the eternal people do not fear the long road.”
Sa’ar said the road his party was on, was not an easy one, but New Hope would continue to push forward.
Sa’ar began his day by voting in Tel Aviv.
“Only New Hope can unite and connect the people, and bring Israel to a better future,” Sa’ar said.
During the final hours of the election, he urged voters to head to the polls, sounding almost as if he was still the second largest party.
“Go out and vote, vote New Hope. We are the only ones who can halt Netanyahu,” Sa’ar said.
“From everything we know, the situation is very touch and go,” he said, adding that “Netanyahu is on the edge of the 61st mandate.”
Netanyahu is doing so well, that he is now calling on voters to head to the polls to support a right-wing satellite party called the Religious Zionists, headed by Bezalel Smotrich, Sa’ar said.
“I understand that the head of the Likud, Netanyahu, is now calling on Likud members to vote for Smotrich and [Itamar] Ben-Gvir,” he said.
“By the way, that goes completely against the rules of Likud, but Netanyahu hasn’t been interested in the rules of the Likud for a long time,” Sa’ar said in a message he filmed from his car.
“If a Likud member now officially has permission to vote for another party, so then for the party that has Benny Begin, led by Gideon Sa’ar, which Limor Livnat and Mikki Eitan called to support, and has Sharren Haskel and Michal Shir and Ze’ev Elkin,” Sa’ar said.
“Bibi” should know that “true Likudnicks vote New Hope,” Sa’ar added.
As he stood in front of one of the polling stations earlier in the day, he held up a copy of the voting slip, with the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Taph, which represented his party.
“Taph, Taph, just Taph, no other slip will ensure change,” he said.
If enough people vote, Sa’ar said, “we can wake up tomorrow to a new Israel.”