Netanyahu’s son accuses president of seeking to oust his father after elections
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Netanyahu’s son accuses president of seeking to oust his father after elections

As premier works to sideline Gideon Sa’ar in Tuesday’s party primaries, Yair Netanyahu says ex-minister is being backed by ‘left-wing media’

President Reuven Rivlin greets Gideon Sa'ar at a conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono, on August 22, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
President Reuven Rivlin greets Gideon Sa'ar at a conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Kiryat Ono, on August 22, 2017. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eldest son lashed out Monday at President Reuven Rivlin, repeating unproven claims Rivlin would task a Likud party rival of his father’s with forming a government after April’s elections.

The pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily reported in October that Rivlin would name someone else to cobble together a new government, even if Likud under the prime minister was the largest vote-getter. Sources close to Netanyahu were quoted as saying the scheme was hatched by a former senior Likud member, whom the paper later named as ex-minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Rivlin and Sa’ar have both strongly denied the claims.

“I remind you that my father warned about Ruby Rivlin and no one on the right understood why, but in the end it turns out he was right,” Yair Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post, using a nickname for the president.

Accusing Israel’s main evening news broadcasts and the “left-wing media” of backing Sa’ar, Yair Netanyahu said Rivlin would give his “good friend” Sa’ar the responsibility of forming a new government, even if Likud emerges from elections as the largest party.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eldest son, Yair Netanyahu, is seen at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

“We won’t let them,” said Yair, who is known for his vitriolic social media posts.

It was not clear what warning he said his father had made regarding Rivlin, who was a Likud lawmaker before becoming president.

The younger Netanyahu, has previously lashed out at Sa’ar and his wife, Geula Even-Sa’ar, a former anchorwoman for Israel’s public broadcaster, calling them “lefties,” in a Facebook post last month.

Asked about Yair Netanyahu’s comments in an interview with Channel 12 news, Sa’ar called them “sad.”

Sa’ar first entered the Knesset as a Likud MK in 2003 and held the posts of education and interior minister before stepping down in 2014. He announced his return to politics in 2017.

Though he has said his ultimate goal is to be prime minister, Sa’ar has publicly pledged to back Netanyahu.

Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sunday's cabinet meeting. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90).
Then-education minister Gideon Sa’ar, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a 2012 cabinet meeting. (Marc Israel Sellem/Flash90/File).

In the first episode of his new “Likud TV” webcast Sunday evening, Netanyahu again claimed Sa’ar was working to unseat him and sources close the to the prime minister later said Netanyahu was working to ensure Sa’ar did not emerge as the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s party primaries.

Sa’ar said in response that Netanyahu was trying to harm his prospects in the primaries and called for his alleged accusers to be named.

Following the initial Israel Hayom report, Netanyahu sought to advance the so-called “Gideon Sa’ar” bill preventing the president from choosing anyone who does not head a party from forming a government, but it failed to pass before the Knesset dissolved in December for early elections.

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