Haim Katz endorses Netanyahu rival ahead of Likud primary vote

Bid to unseat Netanyahu as chief of Likud gains momentum, with senior Likud member and former minister Haim Katz endorsing Gideon Sa'ar.

Hezki Baruch ,

Haim Katz
Haim Katz
Hezki Baruch

The bid by Likud MK and Netanyahu rival Gideon Sa’ar to wrest control of the party from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gained momentum Sunday, netting its first endorsement from a senior party member.

MK Haim Katz, who served as Welfare and Labor Minister until resigning this August after being indicted on fraud charges, signaled Sunday that he would back Sa’ar in the Likud leadership race, set for December 26th.

Katz, who has served in the Knesset for the past 20 years, is the first veteran Likud lawmaker to publicly back Sa’ar over Netanyahu.

Previously, only two MKs had endorsed Sa’ar’s bid against Netanyahu: MK Yoav Kish, who has served in the Knesset since 2015, and Michal Shir, a freshman MK in her first year in the Knesset.

Katz is expected to take part in a campaign event for Sa’ar Monday.

A fourth Mk, Eti Atiya, who first entered the Knesset this April, also announced Sunday that she is endorsing Sa’ar for party chairman. Atiya previously served as bureau chief for Haim Katz.

Two other senior Likud lawmakers are also reportedly considering endorsing Sa’ar: Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan.

Netanyahu, who has served as prime minister since 2009, along with the another term as premier from 1996 to 1999, became Israel’s longest-serving prime minister in July, topping David Ben-Gurion’s record of 13 years and 127 days.

Netanyahu has also led the Likud as party chairman for two decades, with a six-year stint from 1993 to 1999, and his current tenure, from 2005 to the present.