Likud challenger to Netanyahu: Quit before you take right-wing down with you

Senior Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar says he’d “take responsibility” and resign if he were in Benjamin Netanyahu’s shoes.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Potential prime ministerial challenger Gideon Sa’ar went on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet Tuesday and called for Benjamin Netanyahu to resign for the good of the country and his party.

Specifically noting that it had nothing to do with his indictment on corruption charges, the senior Likud MK said that “The prime minister must take responsibility for the situation the country is stuck in” because Netanyahu “could not form a government.”

“If I were in his position, I’d take responsibility… and resign,” he added.

According to Sa’ar, the ability of the Likud to carry out its ideals by leading the country was now in danger.

“We’ll lose power, and in my opinion Likud voters want their way to succeed and nobody is more important than the movement and the state,” he said.

He went on to urge the party to hold snap primaries, promising to honor the outcome.

“It’s possible to hold primaries within two weeks,” he said. “The chances of forming a government are gone, and those who don’t want primaries are pushing Israel to more elections.”

In another dig at the prime minister, Sa’ar added, “If Netanyahu establishes a government, I’ll support it – but there’s no chance of that.”

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Sa’ar’s comments came on the heels of a new poll published by Channel 12 on Tuesday morning. Results showed that if elections were held today, Blue and White would win 37 seats while Likud would fall to 30 – the biggest gap between the two largest parties any poll has shown since the September elections.

In terms of the ability to form a coalition, the left-wing bloc leapfrogged three seats over its rival (58 to 55). However, it’s still short of forming a government without the Israel Beitenu party, which would garner seven seats according to the Panels Politics survey.

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked of the New Right party echoed Sa’ar’s warning on Monday while dedicating  a square in the southern town of Sderot in honor of late Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

“We are doing everything to prevent new elections,” she said. “It is estimated that if we have new elections, the Right will be weakened. There is a real danger that in the next election, if it happens, the Left and the Arabs will get to 61 seats.”