Shasha-Biton joins Sa'ar, gives new party huge boost in polls

Sa’ar has stated that he would not join a Netanyahu led government.

Israeli parliament member Yifat Shasha Biton visits the coronadepartment at the Ziv Hospital in Tzfat, Northern Israel. December 03, 2020. (photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Israeli parliament member Yifat Shasha Biton visits the coronadepartment at the Ziv Hospital in Tzfat, Northern Israel. December 03, 2020.
(photo credit: DAVID COHEN/FLASH 90)
Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton announced on Tuesday that she would be joining the new party of former Likud MK and rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the premiership Gideon Sa’ar.
Her announcement was followed by a striking new poll for Channel 12 News which catapulted Sa’ar’s new party to 21 seats, up from the approximately 16 seats he had been polling at prior to Shasha-Biton’s decision to join him.
The poll had the Likud on just 27 seats, down from its current 36 MKs, and left the right-wing, religious block with just 56 seats, five short of being able to form a coalition.
Sa’ar has stated that he would not join a Netanyahu led government.
According to the deal between Sa’ar and Shasha-Biton, he will head the party and be its candidate for prime minister, while she will be placed number two on the party list and serve as deputy prime minister if Sa’ar becomes prime minister.
Shasha-Biton would also head a “social affairs cabinet to advance issues related to education, health, income and welfare.
Sa’ar and Shasha-Biton also announced that their new party would advance electoral reform, including an eight year term limit for a prime minister and direct elections for at least some MKs.
“My partnership with Gideon comes out of a commitment to a politics of transparency, professionalism, and unity,” said Shasha-Biton.
“Courageous politics while listening to the voice of the public.”
Later on Tuesday, the Knesset plenum ran out of time on to debate and vote on the first reading of a bill to dissolve the Knesset and call early elections, largely due to Likud efforts to stall the process.
This means that the bill will not be passed until next week and may not be passed at all if efforts to pass it in its second and third readings are not successful by December 23, next Wednesday, when the Knesset will automatically be dissolved if no state budget is passed, as seems highly likely.
The bill to dissolve the Knesset includes stipulations that would cut party funding for elections and require transparency in spending and messages in paid advertisements on social media, measures which the Likud opposes.
During a speech from the Knesset podium, coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar called on Blue and White chairman and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz to halt the slide to elections and resolve the two parties’ political disputes.
Speaking in the Knesset plenum on Tuesday afternoon, Zohar implied that it would be possible for the two parties to overcome the current political impasse over the state budget, which if not passed by December 23 next week will lead mean the Knesset will be dissolved and new elections called.
“We are in a difficult period. A period in which the State of Israel is being dragged into another round of elections… this is something we are doing everything to avoid,” said Zohar, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We can say to Blue and White ‘it’s not too late,’ things can still be fixed and elections prevented. We can sit and talk and come to an agreement in order that we not be dragged into another election. It all depends on Blue and White members especially their head Benny Gantz.”
Zohar’s plea was in stark contrast to the tenor of his message on Twitter two hours earlier when he said “In the next elections the decision will be simple: proven leadership that has brought about important and historic peace agreements, the importation of millions of vaccinations into the country, and has led most countries in the world in dealing with the coronavirus, or ‘just not Bibi’.”
A source in Blue and White said in response to Zohar’s comments that “These are all spins and pretenses. Everyone knows exactly what it takes to prevent elections which aren't in anyone's interest- and which we have tried to prevent for the sake of the people of Israel.
“It's very simple - A budget. A working government. Rotation. For Likud to prevent elections they just have to abide by that, and the coalition agreement that they vowed to uphold.”