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Gideon Saar's Days of Rest

Yossi Elituv and Shimon Breitkopf

If there’s one politician on the Israeli scene who could be considered a true nemesis to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, it is Gideon Saar, who is biding his time, deciding if, when, and where to come out of his self-imposed political exile to try and unseat Israel’s longest-serving prime minister. As a new year unfolds, Saar gives his first interview, bringing the political drama to a new phase.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In the seemingly never-ending battle for the character of Shabbos inEretzYisrael,GideonSaar, born into a secular,TelAviv family, played a starring role. In one of his final acts as Minister of the Interior a little more than a year ago, he enforced the law banning supermarkets from opening on Shabbos in the city of his birth. Secularists were appalled, chareidim applauded, and the media charged Saar with chareidi-pandering in advance of a presumed campaign to dethrone Binyamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Likud primaries. They were wrong. A couple of months later, Saar gathered a crowd of 1,000 supporters for a pre-Rosh Hashanah toast to announce he was taking a “time-out” from politics to devote more time to his family. “I felt that this was the right thing for my loved ones. My sonDavid will start walking soon, and I want to be there, right next to him, holding his hand.” His declaration came as a shock to the political system. Widely respected inside his Likud Party — as well as by the opposition — for his skill as a parliamentarian, Saar had twice finished second to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Likud primaries. Another primary was coming up soon and the conventional wisdom had it that the third time could be the charm, where either a Netanyahu slip or a Saar leap would place Saar first.

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