Sa'ar: A government headed by me will not rely on Ben Gvir

New Hope chairman in wide-ranging interview with Arutz Sheva: Despite the disagreements, Yamina is a partner after the election.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Gideon Sa'ar
Gideon Sa'ar
Oded Karni

New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar on Tuesday criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The failure is expressed in his failure to protect businesses and livelihoods, in a failure in enforcement, in the huge breach at Ben Gurion Airport for nearly a year and in Israel leading the world in the number of days its children did not go to school. If the Prime Minister does not see all these things, in my opinion, the citizens of Israel must end his lengthy tenure," Sa’ar told Arutz Sheva in a wide-ranging interview.

Sa’ar said his party has an orderly plan on how to deal with the current crisis. "First and foremost, the good of the state and the citizens must take precedence over personal interests. Prime Minister Netanyahu, in cold blood, refrained from approving a budget, even though he had a large majority in the coalition for it, so as not to abide by an agreement he himself signed. He deteriorated Israel into a fourth election in two years. This is something that should not be done."

"As Prime Minister, I will appoint a professional finance minister who can take care of the rehabilitation of the Israeli economy, I will immediately pass a budget and a law of arrangements with all the necessary reforms to rehabilitate the Israeli economy and renew growth. There are also many things that need to change in the fight against COVID-19. Since the beginning of November, I have been talking about the need for nationwide testing in order to avoid the strategy of sweeping lockdowns and restrictions as the only way to deal with the crisis."

Asked if he had spoken to the haredi parties to gain their support for the possibility of forming a government after the election, Sa’ar replied, "There are no such talks. I do not believe in holding talks on coalitions before there are election results. I am concentrating on one thing - convincing the citizens of Israel that a significant change in direction is required and that it goes through a change of leadership. The discourse within the people as well as the discourse between the government and the people of Israel must also be changed. Policies in areas such as education, defense and the economy need to be fundamentally changed. We will not achieve all this if Netanyahu remains in office. Therefore, change is needed and I believe I can form a stable government, unite the people and bring a better future to Israel and its citizens."

"Netanyahu, after many years in which he also did good things, needs to be replaced because today it is clear that he prefers his personal interests to the good of the state. I believe we will succeed in replacing Binyamin Netanyahu and if we do not, we will serve the people from the opposition," said Sa’ar when asked if he understands why people identify his party as belonging to the “anyone but Bibi” camp.

Sa’ar has more than once pledged not to be a part of a coalition with Netanyahu, but has not yet pledged to form a right-wing government.

"Our government will advance our values and we will insist that the guidelines be according to our worldview, which is known to everyone. Of course, in forming a coalition there are always talks that end in things that the coalition partners achieve but our direction is known and is a national and Zionist direction and so it will remain," he stressed.

"We are people with a record. Not me, not Dani Dayan, not Zvika Hauser, not Ze’ev Elkin or Yifat Shasha Bitton are unknown to the public. We have done things in life and the public is welcome to judge and see that we have the most serious and high-quality slate," continued Sa’ar.

Asked about sovereignty and the regulation of young settlement, he replied, "The one who gave up sovereignty or agreed to suspend it in exchange for the US administration's consent and involvement in agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is Netanyahu. Regarding regulation of settlement, not only am I talking about it, but my last decision in the Knesset was as head of the Judea and Samaria subcommittee of the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, in which I called for regulating the young settlement, which has existed for over 20 years. Unfortunately, even on this issue, as in Khan al-Ahmar and the Palestinian takeover of Area C, Netanyahu has failed miserably."

Sa’ar is in no hurry to rule out future collaborations and said, "The Religious Zionist Party led by Bezalel Smotrich can certainly be my partner. We have cooperated in the past as well. Regarding Itamar Ben Gvir, his positions are very extreme. If I become Prime Minister, I do not want to base my government on extremists. I hear Netanyahu say [Ben Gvir] will not be in the government but will be in the coalition. I say clearly that there is a technical bloc in which Ben Gvir entered, and a government headed by me will not rely on Itamar Ben Gvir."

"Regarding candidate number 7 on the Labor slate (Ibtisam Mara'ana -ed), who I believe will not be elected to the Knesset, New Hope through its representatives has signed the request to disqualify her candidacy which will be discussed tomorrow in the Central Election Commission. I believe that someone who so grossly disregards and tramples on all the symbols of the state and the things that are historically sacred to us is not worthy of sitting in the Israeli Knesset," he added.

On the recent exchange of blows between the Yamina party and the New Hope party, Sa’ar said, "Unfortunately, from the day that New Hope was established, [Naftali] Bennett launched an attack on it. The day after I announced the formation of the party, Naftali Bennett had already started attacking us and he has not stopped since. It could be that this is due to the fact that from the moment we put ourselves on the political map, his situation changed. I would expect him to have a more mature approach. We have a lot in common and in any case after the election I see Bennett and Yamina as partners."

Asked whether the Likud could also be a partner for him, Sa’ar replied, "The Likud and the Likudniks are the people I love the most and this has not changed. I simply believe that Netanyahu is not leading the country in the right direction and that does not fit the values ​​of the national camp. I cannot support the continuation of his tenure."