With well over three-quarters of vote counted in the Likud primary Wednesday, Gideon Sa'ar has something to be satisfied about, placing fourth place on the party's Kneset list, behind Yuli Edelstein, Yisrael Katz and Gilad Erdan and just ahead of Miri Regev.
Sa'ar and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been engaged in a months-long feud after Netanyahu accused Sa'ar of seeking to undermine him and take over the leadership of the party following the April elections. In the weeks leading up to the primaries, the prime minister and his associates urged the Likud electorate not to vote for Sa'ar, but apparently the effort failed to bear fruit.
“It is my greatest political achievement,” Sa'ar wrote on Facebook about the results. “After a difficult and challenging primary elections, I want to thank the members of the Likud Party for putting their faith in me and after four years on leave from politics they again chose me for the Likud leadership (among others). I thank you for your support and love and for remaining loyal, as I have remained loyal to the Likud even during its difficult days.”
Saar said that he views the results as an achievement greater than the two instances when he was elected to first place in the primaries.
“The Likud has proven the strength of its democracy and Likud Party members have demonstrated their national and collective wisdom and responsibility by choosing an elite team, rich in experience and talent,” he added. “This is a team worthy of leading the State of Israel in the coming years. Now we will join hands and work for the victory of the Likud in the general elections on April 9."
Following the results, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told Ynet that he is satisfied but exhausted. Asked if he would lead the next government, Katz responded: “Most certainly not. Benjamin Netanyahu is the prime minister and head of the Likud. He is the Likud candidate to form (a coalition) and together we embark on the elections so that he will form the next government.”
In sixth through tenth place are ministers Yariv Levin, Yoav Galant and Gila Gamliel, former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barakat and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter. MKs Nava Boker, Oren Hazan, Nurit Koren and Communications Minister Ayoob Kara will apparently find themselves outside of the Knesset after the elections.
Minister Ze’ev Elkin is in the 11th place, followed by Tzachi Hanegbi, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoveli, Science and Technology Minister Ofer Akunis, Minister Yuval Steinitz, Welfare and Social Services Minister Haim Katz, Coalition chairman David Amsalem, Amir Ohana, Yoav Kish and David Bitan.
The results are still tentative and as some spots on the Likud list are reserved for women, minorities, regional delegates and the prime minister’s choosing.