In Israeli terms, it was considered something of a political earthquake. On Sept. 17, the ruling party lost its most prominent politician, the only man who dared challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the person considered by many in Israel to be the one great hope of the post-Bibi (Netanyahu) era. Interior Minister Gideon Saar was a former education minister and Cabinet secretary in both the first Netanyahu and the first Sharon governments. Now he surprised everyone by announcing that he was leaving political life.
“I have decided to take a time-out from political life,” he said. He never once mentioned Netanyahu’s name in his goodbye speech, which he delivered at the traditional New Year’s toast for his supporters. Yet, this name not mentioned could be heard loud and clear in the whispers making rounds among his supporters. Saar was resigning because of Netanyahu, and only because of Netanyahu. And he wasn’t the first to do so.