On Wednesday, Gideon Sa’ar denied reports of having a discussion with the Likud party of the opposition about setting up a new government. The Justice Minister called it fake news and said that his New Hope party was not planning on forming a coalition with the opposition in the current Knesset. He was a Likud MK for a long time, but had decided to leave the party to form one of his own. This was because he had been against the leadership of the former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Sa’ar stated that there hadn’t been any negotiations and there weren’t going to be any.
Moreover, he added that if he was going to change his position, which he had no intention of doing, then he would announce it publicly. Sa’ar repeated the same in multiple interviews to different news channels. This media announcement came a few hours after it had been reported that the Justice Minister was talking to Yaakov Atrakchi, who is an associate of the former premier. The report indicated that it was because of the talks that the Likud party had decided to not publicly attack Sa’ar. Sources close to the matter revealed that a senior portfolio like the Foreign Ministry would be granted to the Justice Minister in a government led by Netanyahu.
Sa’ar was reminded that he had stated before the last elections that he was not going to join a government led by Netanyahu and he reiterated that he still felt the same way. However, he did not explicitly repeat this, but he went on to criticize the leader of the opposition for not supporting the legislation aimed at extending the criminal and civil law of Israel to settlers in the West Bank. According to Sa’ar, failure to pass the bill would mean that the settlers would have to deal with the military legal system that applies to Palestinians and this would be disastrous.
The terms of the bill dictate that a separate legal system of the military is applicable to Palestinians. The Justice Minister said that Netanyahu was going against Israel’s national interest for his personal gain. He stated that this showed the opposition leader had not changed, due to which his stance of forming a government with him also remains unchanged. He said that his New Hope party was in favor of passing the said legislation in regard to settlers in the West Bank. He also repeated the warning he had given earlier; failure to pass the bill would mean that the coalition cannot survive.
Some members of the coalition said that Sa’ar was issuing threats and stated that Meretz and the Islamist Ra’am party were not supporting the bill due to his strategy. However, the sources were unnamed and Sa’ar called them cowards for staying anonymous. He added that there would be legal headaches if the coalition members do not support the bill. He said that he was fighting for the existence of the coalition by fighting for this legislation.