Shaked: I Gave Up Ministry So Bennett Could Take Defense

YERUSHALAYIM -
Naftali Bennett. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90/File)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu offered the New Right two portfolios, party chairperson Ayelet Shaked said Motzoei Shabbos – with the second ministry appointment for her, she told Channel 12. However, she turned it down, paving the way for her New Right partner Naftali Bennett to take the appointment as defense minister.

“Netanyahu on Friday morning offered us two alternative deals – two ministries out of a choice of Welfare, Agriculture and Diaspora Affairs, or the Defense portfolio for Bennett,” Shaked said. “After discussing it we decided that Israel at this time needs a full-time defense minister, and especially one like Naftali Bennett. The defense minister’s position is always, and now more than ever, a very important office with very important objectives, even during the period of a temporary government. Unfortunately, it appears we are headed for third elections, so this temporary period may be a long one.”

Shaked said that many of her acquaintances expressed surprise that she had willingly given up a ministerial post. “My answer to them is simple: Bennett and I did not get into politics to occupy government seats, but to influence the state and change what needs to be changed. The jobs are just a means to that. In the previous government I took the Justice Ministry and Naftali the Education portfolio because we felt we could make important changes in those offices. Now we have decided that we can have the most influence in the Defense Ministry,” she added.

Under the deal, the New Right will temporarily add its three Knesset seats to the Likud, but that does not mean that the two parties will be officially uniting, Shaked said. “Each party will remain independent, and this move has no bearing on the future. As you see, anything is possible in politics.” Netanyahu confirmed this in a series of phone calls to ministers Motzoei Shabbos, Yediot Acharonot reported.

Regarding her vision of how the current government formation impasse needed to be resolved, Shaked said that “I remain with the same view I have always had – that we need a rightwing government with Yisrael Beytenu. I am doing everything I can to make that happen,” she added.