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Netanyahu’s Rival Calls for Preemptive Strike on Hezbollah

Netanyahu’s Rival Calls for Preemptive Strike on Hezbollah

Friday, 23 November, 2018 - 08:30
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he attends a state memorial ceremony for former Prime Minister Golda Meir at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rival to head the ruling Likud party, former minister Gideon Sa'ar, has called for a “preemptive strike” against Hezbollah to cripple its ability to fire heavy rockets at Israel in the next war.
Sa’ar exploited widespread criticism over Netanyahu’s failures in the recent confrontation with Hamas to say that Hezbollah was upgrading the accuracy of missiles, which will be able to target Israeli civilian infrastructure.
He stressed that since the battle with Hezbollah was “definitely coming and getting closer and closer, there is a need to anticipate a blow to paralyze it and destroy as much of its arsenal as possible.”
He went on to say: “I call for a preemptive strike against precision-missile factories in Lebanon and other strategic threats that Hezbollah is developing, and I will back up and stand by such a decision if it will be taken.”
Sa’ar is a prominent figure in the Likud party. In two consecutive elections, he received the largest number of votes after Netanyahu. He is seeking to be the new leader of the Likud and the government, should Netanyahu resign.
He retired from politics four years ago, after feeling that Netanyahu’s supporters were fighting him. He is now a researcher at the National Security Research Institute, but his political activity resumed last year amid a growing popularity.
Netanyahu considers Sa’ar a serious threat. In statements last month, he publicly attacked him and accused him of plotting a coup.

“There is a former minister preparing to overthrow me by a political coup,” he said.

Sa’ar was shocked by the accusation at the time, but did not give up. He continued his campaign to regain his political position, while the Israeli premier and his supporters continued their attack against him, accusing him of drawing closer to the left to defeat Netanyahu.

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