Sa'ar says Netanyahu supported term limits six months ago

Gideon Sa'ar is pushing a bill to limit terms for prime ministers.

 Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference;Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2019  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST/ SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)
Likud MK Gideon Sa'ar speaks at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference;Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, November 24, 2019
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST/ SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL VIA REUTERS)

Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu offered New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar his support for enacting term limits for prime minister six months ago, Sa’ar revealed on Monday.

Netanyahu has spoken strongly against term limits, but Sa’ar said that when they spoke privately, Netanyahu spoke differently.

“When he was wooing me to form a government with him and offered me a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office, Netanyahu not only agreed to term limits, he even agreed to make them retroactive,” Sa’ar said in a meeting of his faction at the Knesset.

Sa’ar’s bill that calls for term limits of eight years is not retroactive, so it would not apply to the years Netanyahu has already served as prime minister.

“Netanyahu says the bill is not democratic, but I guess back then it was democratic,” Sa’ar said. “Netanyahu is in another world. He doesn’t understand the change that has happened with our government.

 Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Israel's Justice Minister Gideon Sa'ar is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Minutes before Sa’ar spoke, Netanyahu bashed the term-limit bill at a meeting of the Likud faction. He called on Sa’ar to give up on the bill in the name of democracy.

“The parties in the government are going down in the polls and the parties in the opposition are going up in the polls, so the government is proposing a term limit bill that belongs in Iran or Syria,” Netanyahu said.

The term limit bill was praised by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and Labor leader Merav Michaeli in their faction meetings.

“Term limits are not a matter of Right and Left but a matter of democracy,” said Michaeli, who sponsored a bill on the matter three years ago.

The bill passed in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday, and is expected to be brought for a vote in a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum next week.

The coalition fought on Monday over a bill that would permit illegally built homes in the Bedouin sector to be connected to the national electricity grid. The head of the Knesset Interior Committee, Waleed Taha of the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party, introduced changes to the bill to make it more lenient.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) said the changes were unacceptable. A meeting of Taha’s committee on the bill ended without a vote.

Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich told the committee that Shaked would cave into Taha and enable the changes he requested to be made.