Saar, a longtime Netanyahu ally, emerges as his top challenger

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) – For years, Gideon Saar was one of the most loyal and outspoken supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, serving as cabinet secretary and minister of government.

Now, telegenic Saar, an extraordinary political know-how and acting disgusting against his former boss, may prove to be Netanyahu’s biggest challenge.

To break away from the Likud party and form his own faction, Sawyer is running against Netanyahu in the March elections and has emerged as the leader’s top rival for a long time.

This challenge reflects the surprising deterioration of the Sir-Netanyahu relationship, which pits a cunning political mind against its former mentor in a deep personal battle steeped in complaints of the past.

The wife of 54-year-old Sawyer, a celebrity news anchor, is a secular, a radical nationalist of culturally liberal Tel Aviv, seen as the heir to the leadership of the Likud party. After failing to challenge Netanyahu in the leadership race And then being denied a government post as retaliation, Saar broke on his own last month. He said that his purpose was to convert Netanyahu into a tool for personal survival while he was on trial for corruption charges.

Sir’s chances of becoming the Prime Minister in the next elections are certain and his new hope is coming second after the party Likud with the vote forecast. But his entry into the race reintroduces the playing field and could complicate Netanyahu’s task of forming a coalition government, perhaps bypassing the Israeli leader more than a decade later.

“If there’s anyone who can beat Netanyahu then it’s Gideon Saar,” said Sharren Haskell, a former Lycod MLA who left the party to join Saar. “He is the only one who can stand against Netanyahu because of his ideology, his experience and his abilities.”

Haskell, along with other sarcastic allies in Likud, was planning to thwart a bill that could avoid elections. In the late-night maneuvers, he asked the party to vote or vote against the bill, to hold Netanyahu off guard and prevent the government’s downfall. He even coordinated the move with members of opposing parties hiding in the Knesset parking, shortly before voting, with Sawyer’s political know-how, ready to take Netanyahu off, and the Isle’s His potential ability to cross.

While Saar has given some hope that Netanyahu’s rule is on the rocks, a victory would probably not mean a significant change in policies, especially toward the Palestinians. Saran, like Netanyahu, is a radical nationalist in contrast to Palestinian independence.

These right-wing credentials are seen playing in their favor. Unlike other recent Netanyahu challengers who have tried to appeal for a broad, sworn statement of Israelis, the sire disenchanted Netanyahu supporters as well as Likud lawmakers are snatching both votes. At least four defectors, including former Netanyahu confidant Alkin, accompanied him.

“He’s attacking from the right,” said Raven Hazan, a political scientist at the Hebrew University. “It’s a different game altogether.”

The three previous elections after 2019 ended in a deadlock between Netanyahu and his then army chief, former military chief Benny Gantz. The recent vote in March culminated in a power-sharing agreement, which was broken after months of laxity last month.

Saar entered politics in 1999, serving as cabinet secretary in the first Netanyahu government. He became a Likud MLA in 2002 and remained loyal to the party and Netanyahu, even when the party won the 2006 elections.

Since Netanyahu’s return to the Premier in 2009, Sawyer has held the powerful positions of Minister of Education and Interior, advancing stricter policies against illegal migrants With a more socially liberal theory that extended public education to preschool. He repeatedly topped the Likud Party’s priorities, below Netanyahu.

After marrying popular Israeli news anchor Gila Even-Saar – the second marriage for these two – she took a five-year hiatus from public life. Saar returned to politics in 2019, but was soon limited to a backbench after challenging Netanyahu in a LaCood primary.

Now free from Netanyahu’s grip on Likud, Sar may have a fighting chance.

In announcing his departure, Sawyer said that he could no longer be under Netanyahu.

“The country’s leadership needs a change,” Saar said. “Today, Israel needs unity and stability. Netanyahu can, and will not be able to, provide either. “

Ever since he bolted, Likud tried to portray Sawyer as a leftist in disguise, but his record indicates otherwise.

The essence has been a long-standing opposition to the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, a long-standing international consensus to end the conflict.

“He is far more right-wing than Bibi,” said political analyst Avram Diskin, who said he had known Sawyer for years. He was referring to Netanyahu by his surname. “But he is a practical person, not a fanatic. He is alert and level, ”he said, indicating that he can strengthen himself under pressure from the international community.

Saar supports the construction of West Bank settlements and the annexing parts of the West Bank, while granting some autonomy to Palestinians living in the area. This would fall far short of their demands for an independent state that includes the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. Israel occupied three territories in 1967, although it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

“There is no two-state solution; Saar told the Israeli Times in 2018 that it mostly carries a two-state slogan, “The establishment of a Palestinian state a few miles from Ben-Gurion Airport and Israel’s major population center will pose a security and demographic threat to Israel. ”

Although some Israelis who do not support those views are still eager to support Essence as a replacement for Netanyahu, others say his rise only elevates another hard-line nationalist.

The columnist Gideon Levy wrote in the liberal Haaretz daily, “The next Prime Minister of Israel will be a full-grown man of right, complete and boldness.” “The election is between two ultra-nationalists, Netanyahu or Saar: Bibi or Gidi. There will probably be no other viable candidate. It is a depressing reality, but very exciting. “


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