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Pro-settler Saar: the new hope of Israel's center-left

Likud-rebel Gideon Saar is against a Palestinian state and is close to the ultra-Orthodox politicians, yet voters from the center-left camp support him in the polls.
Gideon Saar (C), Israeli Member of Knesset for Likud, accompanied by his wife Geula Even Saar (L), leave a polling station after casting his ballot during a primary election vote to elect the party chairman, in the coastal city of Tel Aviv, on December 26, 2019. - Saar is the only challenger for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the Likud party leadership ahead of the scheduled general elections in 2020. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP) (Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Even Israel’s most experienced poll-takers did not predict the intensity of the “Gideon Saar Phenomenon.”

Indeed, only a day after he quit the Likud on Dec. 8, Saar announced he will compete for premiership in the next elections against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With this goal in mind, he formed a new right-wing party that has already accumulated in the polls a high double-digit of mandates. Still, similar moves had occurred in the past, in periods when people became fed up with the country’s leadership, period. But in Saar’s case, it is more than that. It is not only a story of a meteoric political rise, but mainly the potential profile of his voters, with many of them drawn from the secular center-left depleted electoral pool.

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