NAFTALI BENNETT and Ayelet Shaked: What needs to be done is to shake up the spirit of the security establishment.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Not since LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers the first time in July 2010 on a special live television show immodestly called "The Decision," has a free agent been available with the star power of Ayelet Shaked.
Shaked has been a rising star in Israeli politics, surpassing her former political patron Naftali Bennett.
Bennett announced Sunday night that he intended to run again as the leader of the New Right party that did not cross the electoral threshold in the April 9 election. He made the announcement in front of his home in Ra'anana and not together with Shaked, who joined him at a political event an hour later.
When Shaked spoke at that event, she asked the activists gathered there for more time to make up her mind.
So what are Shaked's options for her political future?
1. Join Likud, make money and wait for Netanyahu to leave
This was Shaked's plan from April 10 to May 29, when she did not think another election was on the way. Shaked wants to be in Likud. It was and always will be her true political home. But she can't be there as long as Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu are in charge. Sara reportedly vetoed her husband giving Shaked a reserved slot on the Likud list. But she cannot stop her from joining the party and building a base of support from the bottom up that she can use whenever the Netanyahus eventually leave. While she does not hold office, Shaked could also get a high-paying job in high-tech, earning money that will also help her campaign later on.
2. Run as part of the Union of Right-wing parties
This would have been a more attractive option if the current leaders of this right-wing bloc gave her the number one slot on a silver platter. But they did everything but that. Bezalel Smotrich attacked her on the radio, calling her a failure and blaming the repeat election on her. According to a report that has been denied, Rafi Peretz pushed Netanyahu to take Shaked to Likud so she would be out of his way. The URP could use a strong female candidate, but it is unclear whether Shaked is willing to play second or third fiddle again.
3. Lead the New Right
Bennett knows Shaked has surpassed him in star power and that without her, his chances of crossing the threshold take a hit. He is reportedly willing to clear the way for Shaked to lead the New Right and finally be the number one candidate. If Orly Levy-Abecassis runs with another party, the Labor leadership race is not won by Stav Shaffi and Labor ends up running on a joint list with Meretz, Shaked could be the only female candidate leading a list in the September 17 race.
4. Really, really quit politics
Shaked's two children have been raised without her home very much. This could be the time for her to leave politics for real and spend more time with her family, like Gideon Sa'ar did. Like Sa'ar, she could also come back when the time is right, on her own terms. Not being around when politics get dirtier as Netanyahu's criminal cases progress could end up being smart politically.
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