Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) dismissed the possibility of taking action to prevent Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid from becoming prime minister, at Tuesday’s Jerusalem Post Conference at the capital’s new Museum of Tolerance.
Shaked was asked about the possibility of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett retiring from politics ahead of the rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office that is set for August 2023. She was asked whether as the new head of Yamina, she would try to bring about the establishment of a right-wing government or allow Lapid to take power and perhaps form a Palestinian state.
“Are we in a fairy tale?” she asked. “I won’t answer a hypothetical question, but the current government is working. The government is stable. Give us time to deal with the urgent issues that we have. We’re about to pass the budget and it’s very important. The mayors need this money to operate their cities. We had a lot of challenges – let’s focus on them.”
But she added that she was never among the politicians who ruled out cooperating politically with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I was never part of the ‘just not Bibi’ camp,” she said. “I was willing to sit with the Likud and Netanyahu. However, after we establish a government, we need to work with this government. If other parties want to be a part, they would be very welcome. I’d be happy that some of the right-wing parties that are now in the opposition join the coalition.”
Shaked is set to face a challenge from that opposition at the Knesset on Wednesday. Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman will bring to a vote his bill that would strictly prohibit Palestinians from marrying Israeli citizens to obtain citizenship and reform the immigration system.
Following negotiations between Shaked and Rothman, she said she reached an agreement to postpone his bill and pass new legislation he would work on with New Hope faction head Sharren Haskel. But Rothman said he was only willing to do so if she would rule out making concessions to Meretz and Ra’am (United Arab List) to pass her own government-sponsored bill.
“Some opposition members want to find an excuse to vote with the coalition, and they admit they made a mistake,” Shaked said. “I’m doing what I need to do in order to promote Israel according to my values.”
The coalition and opposition are also expected to clash at the Knesset on a bill sponsored by Haskel that would expand the legalization of medical cannabis. The Ra’am faction opposes the bill, which could prevent it from passing. A wider cannabis bill was defeated in June due to Ra’am’s opposition.
A statement by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the conference about the power of the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector being limited in his government angered United Torah Judaism and Shas MKs.
"I am happy there are haredim but we need to limit their political sway," Bennett said.
Shas leader Arye Deri accused Bennett of chutzpah and said there would have been an international scandal of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the same about the Jews. UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler noted the disproportionate power of Jews in the US and that Bennett's parents made aliyah from San Francisco.
“Imagine the outcry if he replaced one word and said about Arabs what he said about limiting the influence of the haredim,” UTJ MK Yaakov Asher said.
A source close to Bennett said he was taken out of context and that his intention was to say that he represents all sectors of society, including those not included in his government.