Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked isn’t disappointed at the way negotiations with the Palestinians ended. She predicted their failure months ago.
“The talks were based on a mistake. Its goals are impossible to reach,” she said. “I don’t want to put Judea and Samaria in Palestinian hands. But [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] doesn’t want to take it, anyway.”
Since talks began, Shaked has been unwavering in her view that Kerry’s efforts were misguided, to say the least, and his latest misguided idea was to pin the end of talks on construction tenders in the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, which he colorfully described as “poof, that was sort of the moment” in his testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington Tuesday.
“I’m angry at Kerry because he knows the truth and should have said it, that [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu was willing to free murderers, but Abbas went to the UN anyway. That’s what really happened,” she explained.
According to Shaked, Kerry presented an inaccurate picture, twisting and omitting facts.
“The construction was coordinated with the US, like all other building during the talks,” she said.
“There’s no such thing as ‘settlements in Jerusalem,’” she pointed out. “Building in Jerusalem is Zionism. You can’t ask us why we’re building. It’s our land, and we’ll build on it.”
Shaked said the construction is not what ended peace talks, rather, it was Abbas’ declaration to the Arab League that he would never recognize Israel as the Jewish State and applying to join international organizations.
“The repeat tender for construction in Jerusalem didn’t cause the ‘poof.’ The ‘poof’ was that Abbas doesn’t want an agreement and refuses to recognize Israel as the Jewish state,” she posited.
Still, she wasn’t surprised that Kerry seemed to fault Israel, quoting a former Israeli ambassador to the US who told her months ago that the Americans support Israel in the UN, but in the blame game, Israel will always lose.
“He called me yesterday and said ‘I told you so,’” Shaked recalled.
“It’s not reasonable to expect so many concessions and payments from Israel. The deal said we give Palestinians their murderers, including Israeli citizens, slow down [settlement] construction and what do the Palestinians give? Poof! Nothing. They just don’t go to the UN,” Shaked quipped.
It’s absurd to think releasing terrorists from prison could bring peace, the Bayit Yehudi MK said, comparing concessions in exchange for the Palestinians not petitioning the UN to “protection” paid to the mafia.
“Enough with paying protection,” she said. “If he wants to talk about peace, we can talk, but we shouldn’t have to pay him for it. He can just go to the UN if he wants. We know how to deal with it. And if he wants to go to The Hague, we’ll prepare a case against him for war crimes and human rights violations.”
Shaked is working to limit at least one kind of “protection” being paid – prisoner releases.
She and MK David Tsur (Hatnua) recently submitted a bill allowing the courts to give terrorists and murderers a life sentence without parole, an option that does not exist yet in Israel.
“This way, someone who killed many people won’t be freed. It won’t apply to those in prison now, but we’re looking to the future,” she said of the legislation expected to go to a ministerial vote in May.
Shaked spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday facing the large windows of the storefront she rents as her office in southern Tel Aviv’s Shapira neighborhood, which faced an influx of African migrants in recent years. A block away, a playground was full of migrants’ children.
“I’m watching the people walk by while we talk. They’re all infiltrators,” she said, asking her assistant to move her purse and wallet away from a chair near the door.
Shaked said she regularly holds meetings with people in the neighborhood – in fact, one man dropped in mid-interview and was asked to come back later – mostly about the migrant issue.
“People in southern Tel Aviv feel like the government has forgotten about them. They blame the government for the fact that so many infiltrators live here. The government needs to give them answers,” she stated.
Shaked has been actively opposed to African migration since before her days in the Knesset, when she was co-chairperson of the NGO My Israel with Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and is now chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus on Infiltrators.
“The government is doing the right thing. In recent months they removed 1,500 infiltrators to third countries or their countries of origin.
Part of the Knesset’s job is to supervise the executive branch, and that is most of what I do on this issue,” she explained.