Bennett Offers Shaked No. 1 Spot in New Right

YERUSHALAYIM -

New Right party leader Naftali Bennett and his former co-chairperson, Ayelet Shaked, are in talks about her coming back to the party, The Times of Israel reported on Thursday, citing political sources.

According to the report, Bennett has offered to step down and allow Shaked to take over as the party’s No. 1, though neither has made any public comment on such an arrangement.

A New Right spokesperson would not give specifics but did confirm that Shaked and Bennett were discussing their future roles in the party, including prospective ministerial posts. Shaked was justice minister and Bennett served as education minister, until Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu summarily dismissed them after the April elections.

The party failed by only 1,500 votes to pass the electoral threshhold in its first time out this year, and Bennett has been talking about making alliances with other parties for the September elections. Shaked’s return would no doubt strengthen its chance.

A party source confirmed that Shaked had not officially resigned from her shared chairmanship of the New Right.

Last month, a poll in the Makor Rishon paper rated Shaked the most popular candidate among national religious voters to lead a united right-wing party in the upcoming elections.

The survey found that 40.1 percent wanted Shaked to lead the hypothetical list. Bennett came second at 19 percent, while National Union leader Betzalel Smotrich got 15.1 percent, current URWP leader Peretz received 14.8 percent, and far-right candidates Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit and Moshe Feiglin of Zehut had 2.6 percent and 1 percent, respectively.