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Israel Elections: Gideon Sa’ar sends olive branch to Naftali Bennett


After weeks of exchanging barbs, New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar reached out to fellow prime ministerial candidate and Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett on Thursday, vowing to stop attacking him and instead focus solely on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.“You are not our opponent and if we continue to fight among ourselves, it will only serve Netanyahu,” Sa’ar wrote to Bennett. “Therefore, we will stop, even if it will be unilateral.”Bennett reacted in an interview with i24 News by saying that Sa’ar was welcome in a coalition he intends to form.The Likud reacted by noting that New Hope and Yamina had already signed a vote sharing agreement and warning that those votes could end up helping opposition leader Yair Lapid build a coalition.“They will do everything to coordinate their government under Lapid,” the Likud said.Yamina complained to the Central Elections Committee on Wednesday about Sa’ar’s New Hope Party sponsoring attack ads.The complaint came after Sa’ar announced he would no longer work with his American advisers from the Lincoln Project, who are being accused of covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving the political action committee’s co-founder John Weaver and pocketing millions the PAC raised. There had been speculation at the time that the Lincoln Project’s advisers would help Sa’ar defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with negative ads, as they did with former US president Donald Trump, but Sa’ar said his party “didn’t make any nasty ads.”

Yamina initially complained to the Central Elections Committee against the Outbrain digital media company after it anonymously distributed negative articles about Bennett. When the committee asked for a response from Outbrain, the response ended up coming from lawyers of New Hope.Election laws forbid publishing anonymous political propaganda. New Hope admitted authorizing the articles.Bennett responded with anger, saying that “while I am fighting against the coronavirus, Sa’ar acted clandestinely to distribute hate in a cowardly, illegal negative campaign.”“Gideon, this is not the way to build unity,” Bennett wroteA Panels Research poll taken for The Jerusalem Post and Maariv found that the public sees both Sa’ar and Bennett as almost as fit to be prime minister as Netanyahu. The gap between Netanyahu and Sa’ar was only 2% and between Netanyahu and Bennett only 3%. The gap between Netanyahu and Lapid is 17%, according to the survey, which was taken by pollster Menachem Lazar.If elections would be held now, the Likud would win 28, Yesh Atid 18, New Hope 15, Yamina 12, the Joint List nine, eight each for Yisrael Beytenu and Shas, seven for United Torah Judaism and five each for Labor, Meretz and the Religious Zionist Party. Blue and White and the Ra’am (United Arab List) Party of MK Mansour Abbas did not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold. Blue and White did cross in last week’s poll.



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