Prominent Politician Pulverizes Party, Prime Minister, Plans Personal Path, Possibly Pulls Plug on Parliament’s Poll-going
As if the Israeli political landscape wasn’t muddled enough, longtime Likud member of parliament Gideon Saar shocked the nation Tuesday night when he announced he was leaving his political home to form a new right-wing party that would challenge Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s leadership. Saar, long considered the last thorn in Netanyahu’s side from within the party, was the only one to run against the prime minister in last year’s Likud primaries. In his speech, Saar accused Netanyahu of fostering a “personality cult” and using the party as “a tool for [his] personal interests, including those pertaining to his legal battles,” saying he could no longer take part in such a sham. Saar’s new party is expected to unite several right-wing lawmakers who have yet to find a home, such as former members of the Blue and White party and even some current Likud MPs, and could upend the current outlook for the impending elections. Netanyahu may even feel threatened enough to agree to uphold his end of the bargain made with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, including handing over reins of the government to Gantz in a year’s time, thereby postponing elections by three years.