‘Post’ poll finds Likudniks believe Netanyahu over Sa’ar in ‘putsch’ claim

Former Likud minister jokes Netanyahu will have him killed

netanyahu saar likud 248 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
netanyahu saar likud 248 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Two-thirds of Likud voters believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allegations that President Reuven Rivlin and former minister Gideon Sa’ar conspired to have Rivlin appoint Sa’ar to form a government after a Netanyahu victory in the 2019 election, a Panels Research poll found Thursday.
The poll, which was taken for The Jerusalem Post and its Hebrew sister publication Maariv, found that among the general public, 29% believe Sa’ar’s denial, 22% believe Netanyahu, and 49% do not know whom to believe. But among Likud voters, 66% believe Netanyahu, only 5% believe Sa’ar, and 29% said they do not know which of them is right.
The poll of 555 respondents representing a statistical sample of the adult population has a margin of error of 4.3%. A survey by pollsters Mina Tzemach and Mano Geva for Channel 2 found that twice as many believe Sa’ar over Netanyahu among the general public, but a vast majority of Likud voters believe Netanyahu over Sa’ar.
Another survey, taken by pollster Camil Fuchs for Channel 10, found that if elections were held today, Netanyahu would lead the Likud to its present 30 seats and Sa’ar would lead the Likud to only 25.
Sa’ar fiercely defended himself on Thursday from Netanyahu’s accusations that he is planning to topple the prime minister 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 next year’s election, Rivlin would ask a different Likud MK to form the government.
Without mentioning Sa’ar by name, Netanyahu mentioned that a former minister in the Likud had been speaking to officials in the coalition about a maneuver in which the minister would attempt to form the next government.
“The prime minister has decided to accuse me of a false libel,” 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 the public proof or take it back.”
Sa’ar went even further, sarcastically comparing himself to Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered on October 2 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after criticizing the Saudi regime. “I realized I am approaching the status of opponent of the regime,” Sa’ar joked. “I told my wife [anchorwoman Geula Even-Sa’ar] we aren’t going to any consulate in the days ahead.”
Sa’ar fiercely denied Netanyahu’s charges that he had discussed replacing him with Rivlin or any other Likud figures. He said he was and will remain loyal to Netanyahu, and accused the prime minister of “court-martialing” him without a trial, much like the press has done to the premier in his corruption cases.
Netanyahu’s attack on Sa’ar proved his strength in the Likud, Sa’ar said, adding “No one kicks a dead lion.” Sources close to Netanyahu responded that Sa’ar’s “hysterical response” and criticism of the prime minister prove he is an “underminer” – one who tried to topple the prime minis ter against the will of Likud voters out of an appetite for power and was not careful when privately revealing his plans.