Sa’ar launches challenge, accusing Netanyahu of paying his loyalty back with ‘pain’

“If we don’t bring about a change, we are very close to a left-wing government,” Sa’ar warned followers at an election rally.

By World Israel News Staff 

Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, a former cabinet minister, launched his challenge against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as party leader and potential prime minister on Monday with both a political and personal attack at a gathering of supporters.

Noting that the incumbent prime minister had failed twice over the past several months in forming a new government following Knesset elections in April and September, Sa’ar told the election rally that “a vote for Netanyahu is a vote for the next opposition leader.”

“If we don’t bring about a change, we are very close to a left-wing government,” Sa’ar warned.

On December 26, the Likud is to hold a primary for the new chairman of the party, who would then be placed in the top spot on the party list for the third Knesset election within a year, scheduled for March 2.

Sa’ar praised Netanyahu as “one of the greatest leaders of the Likud and Israel and one of the most important prime ministers that we’ve had.”

However, the former confidant of the prime minister told the audience that “there is no one in politics for whom I did more” but that, in return, Netanyahu “hurt me, hounded me, paid me back with pain for my good deeds, because I always did my best to focus on the good of the party and the good of the state.”

Disenchanted by the actions of the prime minister and for personal reasons, Sa’ar had taken a break from politics but returned ahead of last April’s Knesset election. He finished in one of the top spots in a Likud primary for the party list that proceeded the April national ballot, though Netanyahu was openly discouraging Likud party members from voting for the man who had become a nemesis to the prime minister.

Outside the hall where Monday night’s rally took place in Or Yehuda, in the Greater Tel Aviv Area, a handful of demonstrators who had gathered to protest the Sa’ar challenge labeled his supporters as “traitors.”

Sa’ar has appealed to a Likud court, requesting that it order the installation of cameras in primary polling stations after the party’s elections committee rejected his request on Monday to monitor the voting and counting process with video cameras.

In his appeal, Sa’ar noted that Netanyahu had called for the installation of cameras at polling stations in the September Knesset election.