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New Hope - Gideon Sa’ar

New Hope is a right-wing party founded in December 2020, on the eve of the elections to the 24th Knesset, by Gideon Saar after he left the Likud. Saar claimed that the Likud "became a tool for the personal interests of its leader," alluding to the sole government led by Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. Two other members of the Likud, Michal Shir and Sharron Haskel joined Sa’ar. They were followed by Minister of Higher Education Ze’ev Elkin who resigned his post. Sa’ar hopes to win enough votes to form a right-wing coalition without Likud to unseat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “In order to have, now, a stable government,” he told the Washington Institute, “we need a government that will not rely on extremists.”

Gideon Saar’s New Hope party garnered only six Knesset seats in March 2021, but has managed to seriously destabilize the coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When Saar quit the Likud and formed New Hope in December 2020 with great fanfare, he was immediately polling at more than 20 Knesset seats. Although the final results were a far cry from that peak, he could console himself with having deprived his former party of at least three seats (according to assessments of pollsters), and thus achieving his goal of weakening the Likud.

“I believe that today, the main challenges of Israel are domestic. Unfortunately, no one is dealing with them right now. I am speaking about bringing back stability, which is not only political stability and influence, of course but economic stability, social stability.” “In terms of our relations with the U.S.,” he said, “we must restore the principle [of] bipartisan support in America, and we must also work with all segments of American civil society.”

Sa’ar had previously challenged Netanyahu for leadership of Likud in the party’s December 2019 primary, in which garnered a mere 27.5% of the vote to Netanyahu’s 72.5%. Sa’ar has accused Netanyahu of turning Likud into a “cult of personality” and has positioned himself as a right-wing alternative who is unburdened with corruption allegations, but beyond opposition to the prime minister, not much distinguishes New Hope from Likud in terms of ideology. Sa’ar has pledged not to sit in a government with Netanyahu and has promised to restore bipartisanship to the US-Israel relationship in the wake of Netanyahu’s close personal relationship with President Trump. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sa’ar sits to the right of Netanyahu; he is an ardent supporter of settlements and has endorsed West Bank annexation before Netanyahu adopted that position.

Sa’ar opposes the creation of a Palestinian state: Mr. Barak and Mr. Olmert offered very generous suggestions, but the Palestinians never accepted them and made it clear that they are not in a situation of willingness to solve this crisis with us. Even if we look back further—to the days before the formation of our state, to the Peel Commission, to the partition resolution of the UN—this idea was at the center of the conflict for more than eighty years, but it always failed. It is a question of whether it is realistic, if such a state is viable at all. How can we implement the idea with two separate Palestinian entities with two different regimes?

How can we protect the security of the citizens of Israel with a sovereign state in the heart of our land, a few miles from the most populated areas in our country? We had the experience of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. We uprooted all civil and military presence in the Gaza Strip. Since then, we did not get more stability and security, we got less. Those that were speaking about the demilitarization of an evacuated territory found out that it is not simple at all to do that, and if you want to do that, you can achieve that only with huge bloodshed. It will not last for a very long time. So all of these questions put huge question marks over the realistic confidence in this idea. I support the maximum autonomy of the Palestinians to rule their life with the minimum ability to harm the security of the state of Israel. This can be the formula.

Regarding settlements Sa’ar said, I totally oppose evacuation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. I think this idea belongs to the past. It was proven it was not contributing to stability, to peace. We must find out how to live together. I don’t think to uproot communities, Jewish or Arab, is helpful to the cause of peace.

He added, I support the idea of implementing the Israeli law over our communities in Judea and Samaria. It is something that continues to be an Israeli objective. I am not speaking about the Palestinian populated areas, I am speaking about our communities. We have there a half of a million of our residents and they should live under the Israeli law.

Sa’ar also believes peace requires a regional approach: “I think that it is very important to combine our neighboring states, Jordan and Egypt, in the solutions themselves….I think on certain issues we can have trilateral agreements: on tourism, the economy, the environment, and other issues. We must try to find an alternative with these two principles of separation and of autonomy without the ability to hurt our security, and a regional component.”

When asked about the situation of Israeli Arabs, he said, “The challenge is integration. I think today we have more and more [Arab] Israeli citizens that feel they want to be integrated into the state and to have futures for their kids.” “In terms of the ultra orthodox community, we also have challenges. As the minister of education in the past, I promoted higher education. Among the ultraorthodox I opened educational [and] professional schools for students that dropped from the world of the Torah, from yeshiva. And I think we should do more in order to integrate them into the economic sector and in our society….When I was minister of education I dealt, for example, with how we can create equal opportunities for the girls who are learning in the ultraorthodox system, in order that they will easily be integrated in higher education, and also in work.”

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Page last modified: 03-07-2022 15:26:04 ZULU