Ayelet Shaked at the Maariv Leaders Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
With political cartoons portraying her as Rapunzel in a tower surrounded by suitors, the big decision of former justice minister Ayelet Shaked has become so farcical that she knows she better make it soon.
Sources close to her said the earliest possible day for her announcement is Thursday and the latest on Monday, which is the date on which her former political ally Naftali Bennett said all along he would announce his future.
Previous speculative pieces on Shaked’s options presented choices that no longer exist: no, she is not going to sit out the September 17 election and wait the official 30-month waiting period to join Likud; and no, she is not going to have the waiting period waived by Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and given a reserved slot.
A KAN report on Tuesday afternoon saying Shaked could run on the Likud list as a member of a party that would run together with Likud was denied by associates of both Netanyahu and Shaked.
Another option that appears to be gone is joining the Union of Right-Wing Parties while leaving Bennett behind. Sources close to Shaked said repeatedly this week that those who eulogized her partnership with Bennett are wrong.
That leaves only two options: Running as the No. 1 candidate on a New Right list that includes Moshe Feiglin and Bennett, and running as the No. 2 candidate behind Rafi Peretz in what was called the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) in April but could have another name for the September election.
Shaked, Bennett, Peretz and Smotrich are expected to hold a fateful meeting on Wednesday that could lead to an agreement. Smotrich has been unexpectedly flexible lately, which could make an agreement more likely.
Smotrich has agreed to relinquish the No. 2 slot and the justice portfolio to Shaked. He also leaked that he really didn’t want Bennett to come back, but was willing to swallow the frog to get Shaked.
A poll broadcast on KAN on Tuesday night that predicted five seats for New Right with Feiglin and four for the URP could increase pressure on URP leaders to give Shaked the one thing she wants more than to head the list: the right to leave the URP and join Likud the moment she would be welcomed in the party. That moment would be the exact second of the eventual departure of Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, who have not let her in the party. Shaked wants to be there when the post-Netanyahu succession battle in Likud takes place.
That concession is what would allow Rapunzel to “let down her hair” for her suitors and finally leave the tower of indecision.
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