War of Succession: The Five Men Vying to Replace Netanyahu as Party Leader

The cracks in Likud solidarity when it comes to supporting the continued reign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are finally showing.

As the bombshell indictment announcement against Netanyahu collides with the political stalemate that the premier has — after two elections and endless governing coalition negotiations — failed to resolve, members of his party are daring to contemplate, some openly, whether his time has now passed.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 50

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 50Haaretz

The first bold move to challenge Netanyahu was taken Saturday night by Gideon Sa’ar, who called for an immediate Likud leadership primary — and then made an official request to do so to the party’s leadership. This made him the first high-profile Likud lawmaker to stick his neck out and offer an alternative to the prime minister’s leadership.

Sa’ar’s proposal is a direct attack on Netanyahu, in that he is asking for a vote to take place in time for a new leader to head efforts to form a new Israeli government and prevent a new election being called for next March. Netanyahu is fighting to hold on to the premiership, in order to facilitate a battle for immunity from the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust that he claims are illegitimate and politically based.

The party’s official response was harsh, saying that Sa’ar shows “zero loyalty and maximum subversion.” Behind the scenes, though, there are signs that Sa’ar may not be alone in seeking to fill Netanyahu’s shoes.

If Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit rules that Netanyahu cannot be given the task of assembling a ruling coalition — with or without a new election — because he has been charged with crimes, the list of challengers may grow.

These are the five Likud lawmakers most likely to vie for the leadership in Netanyahu’s stead…