Netanyahu’s Rival Capitalizes on Indictment, Tries to Oust him as Leader of Likud Party

you shall be free to set a king over yourself, one chosen by Hashem your God. Be sure to set as king over yourself one of your own people; you must not set a foreigner over you, one who is not your kinsman. Deuteronomy 17:15 (The Israel Bible™)

Likud Knesset member Gideon Sa’ar formally appealed to Likud Central Committee chairman MK Chaim Katz on Sunday to initiate a party primary in the event of a third round of elections. Doing so would be “for the good of the movement and the state,” he said in his appeal.

Sa’ar emphasized that the primaries, which could be held as soon as in two weeks, could potentially “prevent the state from deteriorating into unnecessary third elections, which [Israeli] Prime Minister Netanyahu defined only a few days ago as ‘madness.’ ”

Likud lawmaker Yoav Kisch on Thursday came out in support of the idea of holding new party primaries, telling Army Radio, “I don’t see a situation where there won’t be early primaries to determine a party leader. We are a democratic party … there are people who want to run.”

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said on Sunday that holding Likud primaries now would be “wrong,” as it is not “good timing,” reported Ynet.

Sa’ar’s challenge to Netanyahu comes just days after Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit formally announced his decision to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases.

Sa’ar said following the announcement that “Netanyahu won’t be able to form a government,” and that the Likud needed to go to elections “in the next 21 days.”

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin announced on Thursday the beginning of a 21-day period during which any Knesset member may attempt to form a majority coalition. If no government is formed during that period, the country will automatically go to elections.

“We are a democratic party,” said Sa’ar, “we are not Yesh Atid that cancels internal elections. Likud haven’t had primaries for many years now. I will be able to form a government and unite the country.”