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Netanyahu talks up defense achievements, puts down Likud rival Gideon Sa’ar

Israel kept Iran from securing a nuclear arsenal, fought Hamas and thwarted Hezbollah’s attack tunnels, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tells Likud TV • He also addresses alleged putsch attempt by party rival Gideon Sa’ar.

Gideon Sa’ar. March 4, 2018. Credit: Ziv Koren/Wikimedia Commons.
Gideon Sa’ar. March 4, 2018. Credit: Ziv Koren/Wikimedia Commons.

In an interview to Likud TV on Sunday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed recent defense and security developments, as well as political and economic changes that have taken place since he has served as prime minister.

Netanyahu praised the advances in defense and security Israel had made under his leadership: “This is the best decade in terms of defense and security that Israel has ever had. True, tomorrow a war could break out, but we’re prepared for all eventualities.”

“There is no doubt that defense policy has helped defend the country and stop Iran from securing a nuclear arsenal. They want to use a nuclear bomb against us and annihilate us. No one believed that. I did, and I took action to prevent it. I convinced the American leadership to leave the dangerous [2015] nuclear agreement.

“We fought Hamas and Hezbollah, Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and other things. Hezbollah has invested years in its attack tunnels, and we took care of them in a few weeks,” said the prime minister.

Netanyahu also touched on a scandal involving Likud member Gideon Sa’ar, who reportedly reached out to Likud members a few months ago and tried to drum up support to ask President Reuven Rivlin not to charge Netanyahu with assembling the next government following the Knesset election.

“I didn’t make up these accusations. Two Likud members contacted me and said that Sa’ar had reached out to them and laid out a plan for after the election, and asked for their support in persuading President [Reuven] Rivlin to put him, rather than me, in charge of assembling the next government. I didn’t make it up. His trick didn’t succeed,” said Netanyahu.

Associates of Netanyahu said that the prime minister was working to keep Sa’ar from heading the Likud list.

“Aside from that, he isn’t intervening in the placement of ministers and MKs [on the list],” they said.

Sa’ar responded to Netanyahu’s allegations on his Twitter account.

“Unfortunately, two days before the [Likud] primaries, the prime minister has chosen to try and recycle a made-up story he put out a few months ago. His goal is clear: to try and hurt me in the primaries.

“Likud members are smart and know very well that there is no basis for these allegations. Just before crucial elections for the Likud Party and the nation I’ll behave like a responsible adult: I won’t get dragged into an internecine fight,” Sa’ar tweeted.

On Monday, Sa’ar told Reshet Bet radio that “anyone who complains about ‘fake news’ shouldn’t create fake news. The main attack in the middle of an election campaign is against me, to try and hurt me in the primaries.”

The former Likud minister told Army Radio that “using the Likud platform to try and hurt me, is wrong and inappropriate.”

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