Rowdy Likud MK says he’s weighing challenge to Netanyahu
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Rowdy Likud MK says he’s weighing challenge to Netanyahu

Oren Hazan 'not ruling out' competing for party's top spot ahead of next elections, despite PM saying he will run

MK Oren Hazan (C) dances on stage during a concert at the 'Likudiada,' a gathering of Likud party members and supporters in the southern city of Eilat, on January 12, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
MK Oren Hazan (C) dances on stage during a concert at the 'Likudiada,' a gathering of Likud party members and supporters in the southern city of Eilat, on January 12, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

A Likud lawmaker whose antics and off-colored remarks have frequently landed him in trouble said Friday he is considering challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the party’s candidate for premier in the next national elections.

“I’m not ruling out a bid competing for the Likud leadership in the next elections,” said Oren Hazan at a Likud event in Eilat.

Netanyahu, who despite being under investigation in a pair of corruption cases, has said he intends to run in the next elections, which are set for the end of 2019.

He has denied wrongdoing and rejected calls from political opponents to resign.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Oren Hazan are seen during a Likud faction meeting at the Knesset on February 8, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Concerning his chances, Hazan, a 36-year-old freshman lawmaker, pointed to France’s Emmanuel Macron, who was elected last year at age 39. He also noted Donald Trump won the 2016 US presidential elections despite having no prior political experience.

Hazan, who frequently praises Trump, faced criticism after pushing his way through the line of dignitaries at Ben Gurion Airport to snap a selfie with the US president during his visit to Israel in May.

US President Donald Trump poses for a selfie with MK Oren Hazan at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, May 22, 2017. (Oren Hazan)

Since being elected to the Knesset in the 2015 elections, Hazan has come under fire for his treatment of female lawmakers, including telling one MK she was too ugly to be a prostitute.

His comment to Labor’s Michal Biran came in response to her calling him a “pimp,” in reference to a Channel 2 report shortly after his entrance to politics alleging he had hired prostitutes for his friends and had taken crystal meth while managing a casino in Bulgaria in 2013.

He sued journalist Amit Segal for libel but the court rejected the bulk of the lawsuit, saying the report amounted to “responsible, serious journalism and reflected the reality as it was.”

Hazan has also faced legal troubles, including being charged in December for assault over an incident dating back three years and having his driving licence suspended.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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