Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair slammed a possible successor to his father at the head of the Likud party and his journalist wife on Wednesday, describing them as “lefties” who should not be trusted to uphold right-wing values.
Gideon Sa’ar, a former cabinet minister, stepped out of the political arena in 2014, although he remained a Likud party member. He is expected to return to the Likud parliamentary party fold ahead of the elections on April 9 and is hoping to gain a prominent position in the Likud slate in the February 5 primaries.
Sa’ar’s wife, Geula Even, stepped down as Channel 1’s main news anchor last month to avoid a conflict of interests after her husband announced his return to active politics. She also came in for sharp criticism from Netanyahu junior, who accused her in his Facebook comment of being an “extreme leftist.” The accusations were made after Sa’ar appeared on Channel 20, a right-wing TV station, on Wednesday.
It was unclear what prompted the outburst, as Sa’ar pledged in the interview to work to ensure that Benjamin Netanyahu will return to power and he said he hoped that it would be with an increased number of seats for Likud.
Appearing to suggest that if Sa’ar were to become Israel’s leader, he would moderate his right-wing views, Netanyahu junior said in his post in Hebrew: “The second he will be in a position of power, he will say, ‘Things that you can see from here, you can’t see from there.'”
It was an allusion to former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s explanation of why he took a more conciliatory stance toward the Palestinians after becoming prime minister when he felt strong international pressure in his decision-making.
Sa’ar served as cabinet secretary in Sharon’s Likud administrations in 1999-2002 and he was elected a Likud Knesset member in 2003. He served as education minister in 2009-2013 and as interior minister in 2013-2014.
As far as is known, Geula Even has never openly expressed any political opinion. Her brother, Danny, confirmed that in a Facebook post, in which he responded to Netanyahu’s accusations and said that “whoever seeks to harm a public figure by attacking his family is carrying out a contemptible act. Whoever slanders and lies while doing so is carrying out an especially despicable act. This is what Yair Netanyahu has done.”
Yair Netanyahu has used strong language in previous occasions on social media and has labeled left-wingers and journalists “traitors.” He made a tumultuous court appearance last month in a libel lawsuit against a left-wing activist. Upon his arrival, he was greeted by protesters who called him and his family “corrupt” and “garbage.”