Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar vigorously denied reports on Wednesday that he is in talks with the Likud on forming an alternate government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to a Yediot Aharonot report, Sa’ar would become foreign minister, and other MKs in his New Hope Party would be given top posts. Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope) was also meeting with Likud officials regarding the formation of a new coalition, Channel 12 reported.
“I want to say clearly and decisively that neither I nor Elkin negotiated with Netanyahu,” Sa’ar told Channel 13.
“There is no change in my views. I am responsible more than anyone for Netanyahu being removed from power. I used to be in a party where every week they had to sign loyalty oaths. I stopped that when I left the Likud. If in the future I reach the conclusion that it would be good for the country to negotiate with Likud, I will tell the public that I have changed my mind.”
The Likud has noticeably toned down its attacks on Sa’ar and his New Hope colleagues in recent weeks. But the party denied that any negotiations had taken place.
Sa’ar has expressed frustration over the past few weeks that the current government has not been capable of passing even the most acceptable legislation.
The coalition would fall apart if it did not reaffirm a directive giving Israel legal jurisdiction over Israelis living in the West Bank, which has been approved every five years since 1967, he warned. The directive expires at the end of June.
A vote on the bill was postponed by a week on Monday because two Ra’am (United Arab List) MKs and opposition MKs said they would not support it. A majority has still not been reached for the bill.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett convened party leaders on Wednesday to deal with the ongoing coalition crisis. In the tense meeting, Sa’ar said the current situation could not continue, and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid questioned whether he wanted to resolve the problems or jump ship.
Renegade MK Eli Avidar denounced the alleged talks.
“If Sa’ar crosses the Rubicon, [Interior Minister] Ayelet Shaked is warming up on the sidelines and will join him,” he said. “Gideon, right-wing liberal voters trusted that you would not bring Netanyahu back, which includes not through the back door.”
Avidar said the talks, along with Sa’ar’s “ultimatum on a number of issues,” were a “real threat to the coalition.”“Again we are being held hostage by threats from the conservative side [of the coalition],” he said.
The coalition did not fall in bills in the Knesset on Wednesday. But Defense Minister Benny Gantz was forced to postpone a visit to India because the Likud would not pair off with him. Blue and White responded by accusing Likud of harming Israel’s security and becoming “the opposition to the State of Israel.”
Followong a stormy debate, the Knesset voted 63 to 16 to advance a bill that would prohibit the Palestinian flag and those of enemy states in state funded institutions.
The Knesset voted to advance a bill on Wednesday that would set in law the designation of bereaved brothers and sisters.
The opposition, led by Netanyahu, on Monday said it would no longer support coalition bills.
However, because it is a private-member bill initiated by New Hope MK Michal Shir and not an official government bill, some opposition MKs voted for it.
Shir expressed disgust with her former colleagues in Likud on Wednesday night.“I am glad I left you pieces of scum,” she said.
I am glad I left you pieces of scumMK Michal Shir