Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett refused a request from his longtime political ally Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked to use his veto power in order to force the Lebanon border agreement to be put to vote in the Knesset, Shaked said on KAN Radio on Wednesday morning.
"I told him [Bennett] that he should use his authority in order for the agreement to be approved by the Knesset, that is my opinion, [but] he thought otherwise," Shaked said.
"This is more than just a procedure. Every significant agreement in recent generations has been brought for approval in the Knesset … out of an understanding that significant issues need to return to the sovereign, and the sovereign is the Knesset. All the more so for a government that does not enjoy the Knesset's confidence. From a legal, but mainly public perspective, the right thing to do is to bring it to the Knesset for approval."
Shaked also said that she had reservations about the agreement.
"The deal could have been better, we could have reached a better outcome," she said. "But now that this is the deal in front of us, we need to make a decision whether to sign it or not. One thing needs to be clear – the Karish gas rig should not be linked to the agreement," Shaked said.
Shaked's comments came hours before the full cabinet convened in order to decide whether the Knesset will vote on the agreement, or only review it. The question is crucial since if it is put to vote in the Knesset, it is not clear if it will pass.
Bennett took a step further on Wednesday. Following a Security Cabinet meeting that preceded the full cabinet meeting, Bennett said he would support the deal, hinting that he would do so even if it is not voted on in the Knesset.
"I am fully aware of the complexity of approving such a decision on the eve of an election," he said.
"In a usual state of affairs, we should have waited with the decision for the next government, but the circumstances require that we make a decision now, since the security challenges, as they were presented to us by all of the [security] system heads, create a short and narrow window [of opportunity], he said.
The disagreement between Shaked and Bennett came after Bennett announced in July that he would not run in the upcoming election, and handed over the leadership of his party, Yamina, to Shaked. Shaked at first joined forces with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, but later broke away from him and took over the leadership of her and Bennett's first party, Habayit Hayehudi.
While Bennett did not support joining a government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, Shaked announced after joining Habayit Hayehudi that she had "returned home" and that she supported a Netanyahu government. The two thus seem to have parted ways after a decade of political partnership.
Hendel has his doubts
Another minister to express doubts about the agreement on Tuesday was Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel. Hendel reportedly said to the Prime Minister's Office and to the National Security Council that the timetable had not enabled serious enough debate over the agreement and that the agreement's complexity required further discussion. The PMO in response initiated a series of meetings between Hendel and security officials so that he could familiarize himself with the deal.
Hendel also announced that he will not run in the upcoming election.