Israeli Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Zvi Hauser announced on Wednesday that they will be joining former Likud Knesset member Gideon Sa’ar’s new party ahead of the expected March 16 elections, Ynet reported.

Sa’ar, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief Likud rival, announced on Tuesday that he was leaving the party to form his own.

Derech Eretz Party founding members Hendel and Hauser are both former Netanyahu aides, and joined the coalition as part of the Blue and White Party.

In his statement on Tuesday, Sa’ar said: “Everything that has happened in the last year has made me realize a change in the country’s leadership was necessary,” according to the report.

“Loyalty to Likud’s way, values and ideals have been replaced by flattery and platitudes that border on a cult of personality of a man who is flesh and blood,” he added.

Sa’ar ran against Netanyahu in a Likud primary last year, receiving only 27.5 percent of the vote.

While there is speculation in the Israeli media that some other Likud Knesset members may bolt the party to join Sa’ar, there have been no official announcements yet.

JNS

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