With Ayelet Shaked’s designation as the next justice minister saving the government from missing its coalition deadline, groups and officials across the political spectrum reacted on Thursday to the last-second move.
Shaked has been a force in Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party, finishing near the top of the party’s list in internal primaries, leading many influential committees, including on integrating haredim into the IDF, and being a spokeswoman for the Right in attacking judicial activism by the Supreme Court.
But she is also only 39, not a lawyer, and the same steadfastness of purpose that has made her popular on the Right have earned her jeers on the Left.
Shaked herself would not comment at this early stage before she has been sworn in, but her immediate predecessor as justice minister, Labor MK Tzipi Livni, expressed reservations about her appointment in an interview with Army Radio early Thursday.
Asked about Shaked, Livni said, “Between myself and Bayit Yehudi generally and also with Shaked, there are deep ideological differences. She has put forth her view that she wants to weaken the Supreme Court, and I want to strengthen it.
“I hope that one thing happens: that with her increasing familiarity with the legal system and the law, she will understand the importance of these apparatuses to the State of Israel; and the quicker she understands them, we, as an opposition, will have less of a need to stand as a wall to defend them,” Livni continued.
Former justice minister Yossi Beilin also had criticism for Shaked, starting with the assumption that the appointment was bad news, but “not as bad” as if Bennett had become defense minister.
Part of the reason Beilin made that point was that whereas the defense minister has relative autonomy, Shaked “can’t do anything too removed from the law,” because the justice minister “acts within a system,” and her actions are more “in public view.”
The Center for Migrant Policy in Israel, which pushes for policies designed to reduce the number of illegal African migrants in the country, praised her appointment, saying, “We call on her to act to prevent the intervention of the Supreme Court regarding the Prevention of Infiltrators Law. An additional annulment of the law could lead to anarchy in south Tel Aviv.
“Shaked knows the issue in depth and has spoken about it quite a bit,” it added, saying it hoped that “her words were translated into action.”
In a previous interview with The Jerusalem Post, Shaked cited Supreme Court intervention on the migrants issue as one of the court’s biggest overreaches.
The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, which supports integrating the migrants into society, did not comment, nor did B’tselem or the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, all of which are likely to butt heads with Shaked on a range of issues.
One NGO that slammed the new right-wing government and said its statement could be directed toward Shaked as well was Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.
Its director, Hassan Jabareen said, “The new government is composed of active and ideological politicians who are against any political solution with the Palestinian Authority, who hold strong racist opinions against Palestinian citizens of Israel, and who consistently work against the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
“It seems that with this government, the Palestinian citizens of Israel will strongly need international intervention to limit discriminatory laws and practices against them, especially the Arab Beduin in the Negev, who are in danger of dispossession and displacement,” he added.
Shaked received congratulations from groups that do not fit neatly into right- or leftwing characterization.
The Israel Bar Association said it “praises MK Ayelet Shaked on her appointment as justice minister and wishes her lots of success.”
The Bar continued that it hopes Shaked will “lead a revolution in changing the structure of the IBA, and support the righteous struggle of lawyers against” those trying to harm the profession.
The Bar’s president, Doron Barzilai, said Shaked had proven her abilities as a talented member of Knesset and he “had no doubt” she would do the same as justice minister.
The Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel also praised Shaked on her appointment and wished her success “in a sensitive and important position,” and expressed hope “she will know how to strengthen law enforcement and the Supreme Court,” especially “at this difficult time” with so many revelations of cases of corruption.
Likud MK Ze’ev Elkin added in an interview with Army Radio that the Likud would share joint control with Shaked in chairing the powerful Ministerial Committee for Legislation.