Netanyahu challenger, Gideon Sa’ar, gaining support among Likud MKs

Sa’ar wins over a few Knesset members, including one senior politician.

By World Israel News Staff

Gideon Sa’ar, challenger for Likud party leader, doubled the  number of Likud Knesset members who support him, though he was admittedly starting from a low base. He now has four. Likud MKs Sharren Haskel and Eti Atiya announced they would support Sa’ar on Sunday.

Haskel, in particular, is an asset to Sa’ar. Telegenic, popular with the Likud rank-and-file and a staunch libertarian, she has placed No. 1 in 2016 and 2017 in the annual “Liberty Index,” which rates Knesset members on how their legislation promotes individual freedom and free markets.

On Sunday, Haskel posted on her Facebook page, “In the afternoon, I met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a heart-to-heart conversation, and I informed him that I intend to support MK Gideon Sa’ar in the primaries to be held at the end of the month.”

“This decision was not an easy one for me, as I greatly admire the prime minister,” Haskel wrote.

“On the other hand, within a year we were plunged into a serious government crisis and a third election campaign. Twice the Likud was given the opportunity to form a government, and twice we failed to do so,” Haskel said.

Sa’ar has argued that, unlike Netanyahu, he would be able to form a government.

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Haskel and Atiyah join Yoav Kisch and Michal Shir, who already announced their support for the challenger.

Sa’ar has also reportedly hooked another big fish – Likud MK Haim Katz, who is expected to announce his support soon.

Katz, a senior Likud politician, served until recently as minister of welfare and social services after he was indicted on charges of fraud and breach of trust.

But he is considered a major player in the party, having signed up thousands of workers to the Likud from Israel Aerospace Industries, where he served as chairman of the worker’s committee.

Haaretz reports he is still “believed to have influence” over the thousands of Likud party members that he signed up.

According to Israel Hayom, Sa’ar is not expected to win the primaries but sources say that if he finishes with 30 percent of the vote his run will be considered a success, and he will have set himself up as the most likely replacement for Netanyahu in the future.