Netanyahu mulls bringing Ayelet Shaked into the fold, sources say

Ayelet Shaked may be invited to join the Likud party.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked appeared down and out only a few days ago, her New Right party failing to win enough votes to enter the Knesset. Now, sources say, she might be promised a plum spot on the Likud list, Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, reported Wednesday.

Netanyahu calculates that Shaked is a vote-getter, anonymous Likud sources tell Kan. Shaked would be offered a senior position, they say, without specifying which. It is fair to assume it will be as justice minister as she had expressed strong interest during her election campaign in continuing judicial reforms she had started during her first tenure.

Shaked is popular among Israeli right-wing voters, having taken on the judicial system, which is considered overly activist and biased in favor of Israel’s political left.

In March, at a conference of the National Union of Israeli Students, Shaked sketched out a far-reaching plan to change how judges were selected, clearly define the court’s boundaries and restrict the attorney general’s role to that of an adviser.

However, her dreams appeared to go up in smoke in April when she miscalculated, breaking away from the Jewish Home party together with Education Minister Naftali Bennett to form the New Right party. The new party just missed crossing the electoral threshold by some 1,400 votes. Over 138,000 who did vote for the party saw their votes lost, as per Israeli election rules.

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But it looks like Shaked might get a second chance to push through her reforms.

“I thought this would be my parting speech, and that I would leave the justice ministry next week. But politics has its own rules and we can’t know what will happen by Wednesday,” she said on Monday in Eilat at a conference of the Israel Bar Association.

Naftali Bennett says the New Right will run with or without Shaked. On Monday, party officials said that if new elections are held the party will definitely go to the polls.

Although there are no rumors that Bennett will be offered a spot in the Likud, former Jerusalem Mayor and newly minted Knesset Member Nir Barkat openly asked Bennett to return to the Likud fold on Wednesday.

“If Naftali Bennett had been part of the Likud,” in last month’s election, Barkat said in a radio interview, many votes wouldn’t have been lost “and the situation now would be different.”

Barkat referred to the fact that there would have been two more right-wing seats in the Knesset if the New Right hadn’t pulled away so many votes.

In the current situation, Netanyahu can muster only 60 seats in the 120-seat Knesset due to former defense minister Avigdor Liberman’s refusal to join the coalition.

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According to Arutz7, Bennett and Shaked are meeting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to discuss the unfolding situation.