Poised to challenge Netanyahu, Sa’ar woos top cabinet minister

Sa’ar, 53, and Erdan, 49, are among the top names considered as the newer generation of Likud leaders.

By World Israel News Staff 

MK Gideon Sa’ar is stepping up his campaign to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as Likud party leader.

On Wednesday, he met with another leading name in the party, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, to try to win his support, reports Kan public broadcasting.

A Likud party primary for the chairmanship is due to take place on December 26. The winner would lead the party list of candidates and become prime minister if the Likud can form a government following the March 2 Knesset election.

Erdan is considering putting his support behind Sa’ar, says Kan.

Sa’ar, 53, and Erdan, 49, are among the top names considered as the newer generation of Likud leaders.

Netanyahu, 70, has served as prime minister since 2009 after a term from 1996 to 1999. He is said to have met with Erdan this week to try to keep his cabinet minister from supporting the challenger.

Sa’ar, who has been waiting in the wings for the right moment to challenge the popular party leader, wanted a primary before Wednesday’s deadline in order to form a new government on the heels of September’s parliamentary election. That would have paved the way for him to become the Likud representative as prime minister in a rotating arrangement with Blue and White’s Benny Gantz in a national unity government that ultimately was never established.

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Netanyahu insisted on waiting to hold a primary until after the Knesset would dissolve. He and Likud Central Committee chief MK Haim Katz decided on December 26 as the date.

Sa’ar had taken a break from politics but returned for the April Knesset election after winning a prominent position on the party list in a Likud internal ballot leading up to that national vote.

His maneuvering now is part of the renewed political activity as Israel prepares for an unprecedented third Knesset election within a year due to repeated failed attempts to form a governing parliamentary coalition.

Sa’ar insists that he can succeed where Netanyahu failed twice and form a government after the March 2020 election.