Israel’s popular former justice minister decides to run again

After saying earlier she needed some time to think about a future in politics following her New Right party’s failure in the previous elections, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has made up her mind. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Ayelet Shaked, who recently served as head of the Justice Ministry, announced her intention on Tuesday to run in the next elections set for Sept. 17.

“I’ll be returning now,” the former Justice Minister said at the Association of Corporate Counsel Israel (ACC) in Tel Aviv, responding to a reporter’s question.

Netanyahu had fired Shaked on June 2 together with Education Minister Naftali Bennett. Both had run for the New Right party, which they founded at the start of the election campaign.

Likud party sources said that “Bennett and Shaked cannot continue in a sensitive role in the cabinet for another six months after they have not been elected by the public,” referring to the fact that the New Right failed to pass the minimum electoral threshold, missing by the narrowest margin in Israeli history, a mere 1,400 votes.

Neither Bennett nor Shaked expected to be returning to politics so soon, but Netanyahu’s failure to form a governing coalition has given them a second chance.

The New Right was quick to say it would run again even while negotiations to form a government continued. It’s not clear if Shaked will campaign as part of the New Right or as a member of some other party.

There is competition for her attention. Senior Likud members have expressed eagerness to have her join their party.

A recent poll of national religious voters chose Shaked (40.1%) as the No. 1 candidate to lead a united right-wing party heading into the September elections. The second closest candidate was Bennett (19.1%).

The poll suggests that although Bennett and Shaked cost the right-wing bloc some 130,000 votes in the last elections by their decision to form a new party, and thus splitting the vote, it has not overly harmed their popularity.