New Survey: Likud Voters Tip Netanyahu Arch-Rival as Replacement Party Head

Benjamin Netanyahu (R), with his arch-rival, Gideon Sa'ar. (Photo: File)

Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party have tipped his arch-rival Gideon Sa’ar as their preferred replacement as party head, should the prime minister fail to win re-election or be indicted on corruption charges.

According to a survey conducted by Israeli research institute Maagar Mohot, 33 percent of Likud voters see Sa’ar as the best replacement for Netanyahu if he is no longer able to serve as head of the party.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Yisrael Katz, came a close second with 29 percent, while Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein received 16 percent. Trailing in fourth place was Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan, with six percent support among Likud voters.

A similar outlook was revealed when the same question was asked of the general Israeli public – Sa’ar led with 27 percent, while Katz and Edelstein each held 19 percent. Once again, Erdan trailed with two percent.

A surprise result of the poll was that ten percent of Likud voters would like to see former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked head the party, despite the fact that she is not currently a Likud Knesset Member (MK).

The result of today’s poll will come as a blow to Netanyahu, who has long fought to keep Sa’ar at a distance for fear that he could threaten his status as party leader.

The poll shows an increase in support for Sa’ar since the Likud party primaries in February, in which Edelstein finished first (to take second place on the electoral slate behind Netanyahu), followed by Katz and then Sa’ar.

Erdan came fourth in the primaries, with Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev finishing in fifth place.

One explanation for this could be Sa’ar’s increasingly-vocal opposition to Netanyahu’s attempts to guarantee his immunity from prosecution in three corruption cases. Last month, Sa’ar came out publically against Netanyahu’s efforts to pass legislation which would allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court verdicts, thereby ensuring he cannot be prosecuted as long as he remains in office.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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