After the April 2019 Israeli legislative election, Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition by the deadline of 29 May. Instead of letting Benny Gantz attempt to form a coalition of his own, the majority of the Knesset dissolved itself, and a snap election was held on 17 September 2019.
The second election was inconclusive, prompting warnings of a third election. The threat was deemed unacceptable by the opposition and the general public, and Netanyahu called on Gantz to form a national unity government, even offering to cede the top job some time in the future. Gantz rejected this offer, noting that Netanyahu's proposed unity government would include all of Netanyahu's right-wing allies, but none of Gantz's centre-left allies. Gantz also refused to sit with Likud as long as Netanyahu was its leader, due to the criminal cases against Netanyahu.
In October 2019, amid coalition talks, Netanyahu indicated that he was considering holding snap primaries for party leadership. Gideon Sa'ar said in a tweet, "I'm ready." After Netanyahu decided against holding a leadership election, Sa'ar said that he would run in the next election and would support Netanyahu until then.
On 21 November 2019, Netanyahu was officially indicted for breach of trust, accepting bribes, and fraud. As a result of the indictment, some in Likud began to support Sa'ar in his bid for the chairmanship of the party. On 24 November 2019, Sa'ar asked the Likud Central Committee to schedule a party leadership race within two weeks. On 25 December 2019, Netanyahu said that if he won, there would be no elections for the party list in March.
Sa’ar won 7 of the 116 polling places, with Netanyahu winning the rest. Nearly all of Sa’ar’s victories were in majority Druze towns and cities, indicating that Druze voters were still upset over Netanyahu’s support of the 2018 Nation State Bill.