Saar: I will run for Likud leadership 'at the right time'

Former minister confirms he sees himself as a potential heir to Netanyahu, but will not run for Likud leadership until the time is right.

Tags: Likud
Ben Ariel ,

Gideon Saar
Gideon Saar
Flash 90

Former Likud minister Gideon Saar confirmed on Thursday that he sees himself as a potential heir to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, telling i24 he intended to run for office “at the right time”.

Saar announced in April he would be returning to political life after taking a break for two and a half years.

In September 2014, Saar unexpectedly announced he would be leaving the Knesset to spend more time with his second wife and their children. There had been speculations that, were he to return to political life, he would form a new party, but Saar rejected that idea and will return to the Likud.

On Thursday, asked when he would seek the leadership of the party, he replied, “This will be for the public to decide. I support the leader of our party, the current prime minister but I have patience and at the right time I will put my candidacy forward.”

“The Prime Minister is strong, and is supported in our party,” Saar told i24. Despite reports of tensions with Netanyahu, he said he has demonstrated loyalty to Netanyahu, reiterating that he is not “looking for daily attacks” on him and confirming his desire to play by the “rules of the game.”

Saar called for a retreat of the two-state solution, saying, “We need to be cautious about establishing a non-functioning state in a region that is among dismantled states.”

“It is very important today, after more than 50 years after the Six Day War that we assure that the half a million citizens have normal life,” he said about the population in Area C, which is under full Israeli military control.

Turning to the controversial comments made by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely about American Jewry in an interview with the same channel a day earlier, Saar described them as “outrageous”, “patronizing” and called on her to apologize.

“An apology can clear the air and change the situation. The most important thing is not to offend our brothers and sisters abroad,” he told i24.

Hotovely caused an uproar when she said that “most [American] Jews don’t have children serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, or to Iraq. Most of them are having [sic] quite comfortable lives. They don’t feel how it feels to be attacked by rockets, and I think part of it is to actually experience what Israel deals with on a daily basis.”

“This is the reason for the distancing between U.S. Jews and Israel. American Jews contribute a great deal to Israel, but they cannot condition their connection to Israel on the government's policies. We need to remember that the past few years have seen stormy discussions about Judaism and identity. These arguments are a healthy part of democracy,” added Hotovely.

She has since issued an apology for the comments, saying she had not meant to offend American Jews, and that she was cognizant of the great contributions American Jews have made to the State of Israel.

“I’m sure that Hotovely herself knows that American Jewry contributed to American society also by going to the American army through the year and by fighting,” Saar told i24.