Sa’ar Wars: A New Hope

Much of the Israeli media in their hatred towards Binyamin Netanyahu, built up Benny Gantz as the saviour of Israeli politics and an alternative Prime Minister. But just nine months since the last election, Gantz’s Blue and White party may now fail to cross the minimum threshold in the upcoming fourth election in less than two years, according to polls released on Tuesday night.

Benny Gantz received 35 seats in his first ever election in April 2019 and 33 seats in both the September 2019 and March 2020 elections. But polls now put the Blue and White party on just 4 – 6 seats. Sure his party broke into four parties because his faction decided to join Bibi after a third stalemate election. But Blue and White was not a real political party. It formed under the banner of “anyone but Bibi”, and yet they still lost to Likud’s 36 seats.

The media cannot even recognise that when they built up Gantz, they got it so wrong and that today he has fallen like a solid rock in water. Instead of acknowledging their mistake, the media have simply jumped ship and now are rooting for former Likud MK Gideon Saar’s new party, “New Hope”.

Blue and White was made up of so many different political backgrounds, it was bound to fail. In fact Benny Gantz’s party is now so close to the minimum four seats needed to gain entry into the Knesset, he may even pull Blue and White from running, just before the deadline of registrations, leaving his candidates no time to hop to another party.

Several of Gantz’s Blue and White MKs voted this week against extending the time to pass a budget. This was against his expressive orders and this is another reason why he would never have made a good Prime Minister – Gantz is not a political leader.

Of course Netanyahu wanted more time before going to another election. Enough time to distribute the vaccine to every citizen that wants it and stimulate the Israeli economy to get back jobs. There may even have been another few countries wishing to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.

It would also have been advantageous to Netanyahu, if Gideon Sa’ar “New Hope” party would have been fully vetted and tested, in terms of slip ups, mistakes and car crash interviews. So a May or June general election could have worked out well for Netanyahu.

But the problem Sa’ar may have is using “recycled politicians” because the public generally does not like them. The public wish to see fresh new faces enter the Knesset, untainted by the “back room” and “horse trading” deals that take place every day in the Knesset.

Gideon Sa’ar has already agreed to place Likud-Kulanu MK Dr Yifat Shasha-Biton at number two on his list and if Sa’ar becomes PM, she will serve as his Deputy PM. Shasha-Biton chaired the Knesset Coronavirus Committee and during the crisis, disagreed with many of Netanyahu’s decisions and refused to approve some government decisions.

Other Likud MKs are said to be looking for reserved spots in Sa’ar new party, so they have a guarantee of becoming a Knesset member in March 2021. This is what is called “playing both sides” and we all remember what happened to the Kadima party which was mostly made up of former Likud MKs – it disappeared from the political arena after just three elections.

There is not really a left or right in Israeli politics any longer, at least not in this election. Labour is gone and Meretz on the far left is only just making it into the Knesset. Today it is all about personalities and which candidate you think you can trust to do what they say they will do.

Of course there are still “die hard” Labour supporters, but many switched to Blue and White last time to see the end of Netanyahu, which failed to materialise. This time they are in a major dilemma between the far left and Gideon Sa’ar or Naftali Bennett on the right. As for Lapid, his poll numbers are dropping as he no longer offers “hope” or anything new to the political climate except unnecessary rhetoric.

So to sum up, Netanyahu, Sa’ar, Bennett and Lapid all are running to become Prime Minister. Netanyahu only has the two religious parties as potential coalition partners which is not enough for a 61 seat majority. Sa’ar, Bennett, Lapid and Lieberman also cannot reach 61 seats and Lapid along with Lieberman will refuse to work with the religious. Neither side will bring the Meretz party into government. Blue and White will probably drop out of the election race in February.

So as it looks now, we are looking at another stalemate while the country continues to suffer under the corona pandemic, no budget passed since 2016, (which was for 2 years) and over a million unemployed.

But we can look forward to the ugliest campaign ever, and there really has been some nasty ones in recent years.

And they said the “only” obstruction to a stable government is Bibi Netanyahu. Yet the egos of the above names, all have a hand in the political chaos.

Finally, just to show how silly it all is, the first Star Wars movie was called “A New Hope” which is the name of former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar new party (Sa’ar Wars). According to polls on Tuesday night, New Hope will receive the second highest number of seats, behind Likud, but there is a long way to go before 23 March.

Likud 28 – 29

New Hope 16 – 20

Yamina 13 – 15

Yesh Atid 13 – 14

Joint List 11 – 12

Shas 7 – 8

United Torah Judaism 7 – 8

Yisrael Beiteinu 6 – 7

Meretz 4 – 6

Blue and White 4 – 6

About the Author
James J. Marlow is a broadcast journalist and public relations media consultant. He has previously worked for ITN, EuroNews, Reuters, Daily Mail, Daily Express, LBC Radio and Sky News. In addition he has trained and prepared hundreds of business and entertainment people, politicians and Rabbis, for the media, including television, radio and audiences.
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