Israel elections: Jonathan Pollard withdraws endorsement of Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked is the leader of the Zionist Spirit party that she formed with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel.

JONATHAN POLLARD arrives at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City in 2017. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
JONATHAN POLLARD arrives at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City in 2017.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

Jonathan Pollard withdrew his endorsement of Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, leader of the Zionist Spirit Party, on Tuesday evening, after earlier expressing support her, saying he had been made aware that she did not intend to kick Yoaz Hendel out of the party.

Earlier, Pollard, who until now has not endorsed political candidates, said he supported Shaked out of his “unquantified love of [Israel] and dedication to its survival and well-being.”

Shaked “will serve Israel in a way that will safeguard both our core interests and our honor,” he said in a video tweeted by the party’s official Twitter account.

On Tuesday evening, however, Pollard told Arutz Sheva that it was "made clear" to him that "she refuses to remove Yoaz Handel from her list and to commit that she will only join a right-wing government."

 Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel at Hamacabia Village in Ramat Gan, on July 27, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90) Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel at Hamacabia Village in Ramat Gan, on July 27, 2022 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

"This raises real concerns that she will once again transfer votes from the right to the left. That's why I retract my support for her," said Pollard.

"I was happy to hear this morning about Jonathan Pollard's support for me," said Shaked in response Pollard's announcement on Tuesday evening. "The poison machine directed at him from the moment he announced his support for me put Jonathan in an impossible situation and I'm glad he pulled himself out of the eye of the storm. An Israeli hero like Jonathan deserves to be at the heart of consensus and not become a target in the toxic discourse of Israeli politics. As I have said at every stage in recent weeks - only together we will win, this is the secret of the strength of the people of Israel."

In his earlier video, Pollard had criticized Shaked’s involvement in the previous government.

“Yes, she exhibited misplaced loyalty in our last government, but I truly believe that she realizes the mistakes she made and will not repeat them,” he said. “We need her now, free and clear of the bad influences that hurt both her personal reputation and her political credibility.

“We all make errors in judgment. There are differences between those of us who refuse to acknowledge such errors and those of us who recognize their errors and commit never to repeat them. I believe Ayelet Shaked is just such a person and deserves to be given an opportunity to continue being part of Israel’s leadership,” Pollard said.

"At this difficult and dangerous time in our history, we need and deserve a proven patriot like Ayelet Shaked."

Jonathan Pollard

A caption on the video said: “Also Israel’s hero Jonathan Pollard has a Zionist spirit!”

What is the Zionist Spirit Party?

In the last government, Shaked was part of the Yamina Party led by then-prime minister Naftali Bennett. When the government was disbanded and elections were announced, Bennett said he would not run for the Knesset again, and Shaked became the leader of the party.

Yamina has now become the Zionist Spirit Party, which Shaked formed with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, who ran with Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party in the last election.

Since Zionist Spirit was formed, former members of Yamina have been dropping out of the party, including Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana, MK Shirley Pinto and MK Abir Kara.

Kara and Shaked contradicted each other regarding the reason for his leaving. Kara attributed it to differences over economic policy. Shaked said it was because she would not make him No. 4 on the party’s list.

Over the past month, Zionist Spirit has failed to pass the electoral threshold in 18 of 23 polls, although it has been gaining support steadily.

Eliav Breuer and Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.