Netanyahuצילום: שמוליק גרוסמן, דוברות הכנסת

A prominent Australian Jewish businessman, philanthropist, and donor who funded Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first bid for the premiership is privately urging Netanyahu to step aside as premier.

Rabbi Joseph Gutnick, an Australian-Jewish mining magnate and prominent Chabad-Lubavitch philanthropist who donated heavily to Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign, sent a text message to Netanyahu Sunday night, urging him to allow another candidate from the Right to receive the mandate to form a government.

Gutnick called on Netanyahu to run instead for the presidency, and to work to bring both the Yamina and New Hope parties into the Likud.

“Dear Bibi, please do not let the opportunity of forming a 65/66 right-wing government slip away,” Gutnick texted Netanyahu. “Act according to the wishes of the Rebbe.”

“Accept the honor of being President of Israel through which you can achieve so much. Bring Saar and Bennett into Likud and allow primaries to vote in a new PM. Do not let us down.”

In 2019, Gutnick endorsed the Yamina party, then led by Ayelet Shaked, over the Likud.

“Yamina is a right-wing party, and if you want to ensure that there will be a right-wing government, Yamina needs 13 or 14 seats,” Gutnick told The Jerusalem Post.

Gutnick warned that if Netanyahu formed a unity government with Blue and White it would destroy his “right-wing legacy”.