'I will run for Likud leadership, but only after Netanyahu steps away'

MK Nir Barkat at Arutz Sheva studio: The US is Israel’s best strategic partner, we have to find common ground with the Biden administration.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Nir Barkat
Nir Barkat
Arutz Sheva

MK Nir Barkat (Likud) was a guest on Monday at Arutz Sheva’s new studio in Jerusalem and said that he would run for the leadership of the Likud after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu steps down.

Commenting on the March 23 election, Barkat noted that he sees two possible outcomes to the election.

“The first, which is the recommended one, is once we pass 61 seats, we can form a right-wing government to focus on the challenges that we have on the right: How to work with the American administration, how to support and strengthen and grow the settlement in Judea and Samaria, how to reform some of the systems in our country, mainly the legal system. We have to boost the economy, and there’s no one better than the Likud and Netanyahu to lead that process,” he said.

“The other extreme, if God forbid we cannot reach 61, is that [Yair] Lapid and Meretz and Labor, with the support of the Joint List, with [Naftali] Bennett and [Gideon] Sa’ar will form a government,” added Barkat. “That’s not a right-wing government. That’s a government where the folks from the right of center will be a third of the coalition. They will not be able to do anything that we believe in on the right of center. God forbid, if this happens, we will have a government which will not be able to support the settlement, will stutter with respect to the Palestinian Authority and I am really concerned about that option.”

Asked about Israel’s relationship with the new Biden administration, Barkat noted that most of his time as Mayor of Jerusalem overlapped with President Barack Obama’s time in office.

“It was very difficult. It was very tough for us to build and Netanyahu maneuvered very wisely. We did grow, not at the rate we wanted, but we worked with the American administration which is the best strategic partner Israel has,” he said.

“With the Trump administration, we were able to execute many many things, such as moving the embassy, and thanks to President Trump for his help and support. We were able to create the Abraham Accords with four Muslim Arab countries, which is a phenomenal accomplishment.”

The new administration, predicted Barkat, will be somewhere between Obama and Trump. “We’re going to have to reason with them and figure out how we maintain the pressure on Iran. We will strengthen the Abraham Accord. We have to see how we work vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority and the threats from Gaza.”

Stressing that the United States is Israel’s best strategic partner, Barkat said that Israel will have to find common ground with the Biden administration “even if it means here and there that we’ll have to make some sacrifices to our strategy.”

Asked about what will happen in the Likud after Netanyahu, Barkat stated that he will not challenge Netanyahu so long as he is the leader of the Likud.

“The day he decides to move to the next chapter of his life, there’s naturally going to be an election [for leader of the Likud]. I will both run and believe I will win,” he said.



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