Sa’ar willing to make ‘concessions’ to create right-wing bloc opposing Netanyahu

Representatives of Yesh Atid, Yisrael Beytenu and New Hope slated to meet Wednesday to discuss ‘the beginning of cooperation to overthrow the existing government’

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

MK Gideon Sa'ar attends a faction meeting of the National Unity Party at the Knesset, July 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
MK Gideon Sa'ar attends a faction meeting of the National Unity Party at the Knesset, July 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar said on Monday that he was open to making concessions in order to establish a right-wing bloc in opposition to the current government.

“I support and gave expression to the establishment of a bloc of incumbent and new right-of-center parties,” Sa’ar said at an Israel Bar Association conference.

“It is natural to cooperate with MK Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party,” he said, less than a week after it was announced that the two factions would work together in submitting no-confidence motions against the government during the summer legislative session.

“We are right-wing parties in the opposition and in this, we differ from other factions whose views on war are completely different from ours,” Sa’ar added, explaining that establishing a new right-wing bloc would create a chance “to both change the government and lead Israel while facing major challenges.”

“I do not want to say that I have already given up my ego. I am saying simply that if the goal is important, I will make personal concessions for the sake of unity.”

Sa’ar, a former Likud minister, was pushed out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party after challenging him for its leadership several years ago. His New Hope party, which has four seats in the Knesset, merged with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, which has eight, in July 2022, to form the National Unity alliance.

Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman (right) and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid at the first government conference led by then-Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett, at the Knesset on June 13, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He announced his party’s departure from the coalition in March, two weeks after dissolving his political alliance with Gantz, in the wake of the denial of his demand to be admitted to the high-level war cabinet.

Following Sa’ar’s split from Gantz, polls showed that the New Hope leader could struggle in the elections despite positioning himself as an alternative leader of the “statesmanlike right.”

One survey in March found that if former prime minister Naftali Bennett and ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen were to join Sa’ar in forming a new party, their alliance would match Likud’s projected showing, with 17 seats in a new election.

On Monday, centrist Opposition Leader Yair Lapid’s office announced that he would be meeting with both Liberman and Sa’ar on Wednesday.

According to a New Hope source, the goal of the meeting is to discuss “the beginning of cooperation to overthrow the existing government, mainly on the parliamentary side, and to see what can be done to promote elections going forward.”

Addressing reporters ahead of his party’s weekly faction meeting in the Knesset on Monday, Liberman called on Sa’ar, Lapid and Gantz to set up a “joint war room so that we can topple this government and establish another government,” either during the current Knesset session or by advancing elections.

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz holds a press conference in Ramat Gan, May 18, 2024. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Gantz, whose party joined the government in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 attack, recently issued an ultimatum to Netanyahu, threatening to withdraw from the coalition unless the premier commits to an agreed-upon vision for the Gaza conflict by June 8.

His exit would not topple the coalition, leaving it with 64 out of 120 Knesset seats.

“I also call on the Likud members who agree with my assessment — the time has come to establish a joint war room to replace the government and its leader,” Liberman said in his Monday comments, arguing that Netanyahu’s continued rule “endangers the future of the State of Israel.”

“It is our duty to unite all the healthy parts of Israeli society and the political system so that we can bring about victory… and the establishment of a sane and functioning government that works for the public,” he said.

Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova. (Courtesy)

Speaking with The Times of Israel on Tuesday, Yisrael Beytenu MK Evgeny Sova said that it was “hard to plan something when National Unity is still a part of the government. So the first stage is to convince National Unity to leave the government and then we will be able to plan our next steps.”

“I believe that the integration of the Zionist opposition in the Knesset is necessary in light of the fact that this government is acting in a manner that is contrary to the values of Zionism,” he added, criticizing the government over what he said was its inaction on recruiting the ultra-Orthodox, restoring security to the north and its “waffling” in terms of prosecuting the war in Gaza.

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