Netanyahu-Sa’ar rivalry heats up ahead of possible Likud leadership race

Sa’ar slams PM’s rhetoric, says indictment ‘isn’t an attempted coup, and it is irresponsible to say that’

netanyahu  saar more plotting 248 88 ap (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
netanyahu saar more plotting 248 88 ap
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar traded barbs on Saturday night.
Sa’ar is the only Likud lawmaker who has said he would run against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for leader of his party, and he is fighting against Netanyahu’s attempt to cancel a leadership primary ahead of the expected election in March.
“If we go to snap primaries in these 21 days, we can keep the Likud in power,” Sa’ar said on Meet the Press.
“We should do it to end this crazy crisis” – consecutive elections and no government – “paralyzing the country for a year,” Sa’ar said of a leadership race. “How long can the country continue like this?”
Sa’ar also took issue with Netanyahu’s rhetoric and that of some of his supporters, saying that the indictment “isn’t an attempted coup, and it is irresponsible to say that...[Such statements are] creating an atmosphere of chaos.”
Primaries for the Likud’s leadership and list of candidates are supposed to be held before every election. A Likud central committee vote on canceling the primary for the Likud list, which Netanyahu requested, is scheduled for December 5, only six days before the end of the 21-day period in which the Knesset can choose a candidate for prime minister or else a third election in less than a year will automatically be triggered.
Netanyahu also seeks to cancel the leadership primary, but Central Committee chairman Chaim Katz, a Sa’ar ally, has not scheduled it, and Sa’ar plans to fight any such efforts.
“I think I can form a government easily and unite the people,” he said. “Maybe others think they can too.”
Sa’ar slammed “a system of incitement against [him and his] family,” because of his rivalry with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s spokesman responded to Sa’ar’s remarks in a statement made in the name of the Likud.
“The chairman of the Likud is Prime Minister Netanyahu, who brought the Likud 32 seats” in the last election, he said. “It’s unfortunate to see that while the Prime Minister Netanyahu protects Israel’s security on all fronts and acts to keep the Likud in power, Gideon Sa’ar, as usual, shows zero loyalty and maximum subversion.”
Sa’ar also had things to say in support of Netanyahu, calling him “one of the greatest statesmen in the world who had great achievements for Israel.”
He expressed hope that Netanyahu would be acquitted of the charges brought against him last week, saying that there remains the presumption of innocence.