New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar vowed Tuesday that despite apparently disappointing election results, he was still committed to not joining a government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking to supporters after the release of the party’s relatively poor showing in exit polls, which show it getting as few as six seats, down from surveys two months ago that had shown him getting over 20, Sa’ar tried to put a positive spin on events.
“We did the best we could in not easy circumstances,” he said, noting that his was the only new party to actually make it into the Knesset.
Sa’ar broke ranks with Likud in December along with a handful of party members, including Netanyahu confidant Ze’ev Elkin, to form an independent right-wing list. He has called for Netanyahu to be removed from power.
Sa’ar said he would respect the will of the voters, but nevertheless, promised to continue to work “to establish a government of change.”
TV analysts speculated that if the situation continued to be deadlocked, Netanyahu could try and get some of the other New Hope members to defect back to Likud, noting that three of the top five were former Likud ministers.
Shortly after its formation, New Hope soared in the polls with as many as 21 Knesset seats predicted in December and much of its support appearing to come at the expense of both Likud and Naftali Bennett’s Yamina party. But since then, the three-month campaign has seen New Hope consistently shed support, dropping to 16 seats in mid-January, 13 in mid-February and just nine in the final pre-election polls published last week.