Likud Rival Slams Netanyahu and Calls for Primary to ‘Save the Country’

Likud Rival Slams Netanyahu and Calls for Primary to ‘Save the Country’

Mr. Netanyahu had been unable to form a government after elections in April and in September, he noted.

“I haven’t heard a single person who thinks that after a third, or fourth, or fifth, or sixth election, that Prime Minister Netanyahu will succeed in forming a government,” Mr. Saar said.

Were Mr. Netanyahu to stay at the helm of Likud, Mr. Saar warned, either “this insane crisis,” with Israel politically paralyzed, would continue, or the center-left would gain power.

“There is only one way that will allow us to save the country and to extricate it from this crisis and to save the Likud’s rule — a primary to avert an election,” he said.

Mr. Saar, 52, was the strongest vote-getter in Likud primaries in 2008 and 2012, but he took a hiatus in 2014. He re-entered public life in 2017, and ran in the Likud primary election in February, finishing third. He said Saturday night that he believed he would “easily” form a government where Mr. Netanyahu had been unable to.

Only days ago, Mr. Netanyahu maintained rock-solid party support. But with Mr. Saar assailing him publicly, the cracks spread almost instantly. Haim Katz, a lawmaker who is chairman of the Likud Central Committee, endorsed Mr. Saar’s demand for an expedited primary election.

Mr. Gantz, in a speech in Tel Aviv, pointed to Mr. Netanyahu’s long history of exploiting his opponents’ misfortunes, and of fanning the flames of popular anger among his right-wing base, to argue that the prime minister had no business trying to put his prosecutors on trial in the court of public opinion.

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