Former Likud Minister Zeev Elkin: 'Netanyahu is taking Likud to the grave'

"Netanyahu went through a dangerous transformation & came to believe that whatever was good for him, was good for the country."

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Zeev Elkin
Zeev Elkin
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

“I heard of Gideon Sa’ar’s decision to leave the Likud on television,” former Likud minister Zeev Elkin told Yisrael Hayom in an interview published on Wednesday. Elkin himself left Likud just a short while later, to join the party established by Sa’ar, New Hope.

Elkin added that over the course of the past year, both he and Sa’ar experienced great frustration at the manner in which the Prime Minister made political decisions – however, at no point did they have a joint plan to leave and start a party of their own.

“I was reaching a point of desperation, a point at which I knew I simply could not look the voters in the eye and tell them to vote for Netanyahu because he’s the one who’ll make the right decisions for the country,” he related. “I saw no hope. And it wasn’t just me – there was a sense of desperation in the air, after Netanyahu rejected my proposal to push off elections and decided instead to head toward a fourth round. Then, Sa’ar left the party and I received an invitation to join him.

“It was a tough decision to make,” Elkin admitted. “But by then I realized that there was no other way forward, no other way to break out of the vicious circle.” He went on to accuse Netanyahu of being personally responsible for dragging the country not only into the current cycle of elections, but also the previous round, in the spring of 2020, simply in order to improve his position with regard to his trial on corruption charges.

“He had calculated that it was better for him to face trial as prime minister, and if not that, then at least as leader of the opposition,” Elkin said. “Netanyahu is taking the Likud to the grave. He won’t step down as leader of the party even if he loses the next elections.”

As someone who was in Netanyahu’s inner circle for years and remained loyal to him throughout extremely challenging periods, Elkin’s accusations carry a great deal of weight, especially as he does not deny the achievements the Prime Minister brought about for the country. “However, Netanyahu went through a dangerous transformation, one that led him to believe that whatever was good for him, was also good for the country,” Elkin said.

All the same, Elkin insisted that the Blue & White party should also be held responsible for the descent into yet another election season, singling out party leader Benny Gantz for special criticism for his dismissal of Avi Nissenkorn as Justice Minister.

“The moment that Nissenkorn left the Justice Ministry, this tragedy of a fourth round of elections became a parody,” he said. “Recall that it was Gantz’s stubborn insistence that Nissenkorn should remain in his position that prevented a compromise from being made between Likud and Blue & White that could have averted elections. But the price will be paid by us – elections will cost three billion shekels and three wasted months,” he pointed out.

Asked to comment on New Hope’s electoral chances, given the difficulty of establishing a functioning coalition government with so many small parties frequently at odds over key issues, Elkin was optimistic.

“I can give you my promise on this,” he said. “The moment that Netanyahu finds that he can’t form a government, we will do so. Gideon Sa’ar and I both have the necessary experience, and I will bring my entire body of knowledge of the Knesset to work toward this goal.”