Shaked Dismisses Dropout Reports as Spin

By Shmuel Smith

A Jewish Home party member casting his vote in primary elections in Ramat Gan on February 4, 2019 (Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM — Interior Minister and newly installed Jewish Home party leader Ayelet Shaked dismissed reports that she might drop out of the race for the Knesset.

A number of senior right-wing Israeli politicians were trying to induce Shaked to quit the campaign in return for an ambassadorship to a major European country if the bloc led by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu regains power, according to a report in Israel Hayom on Wednesday.

Shaked insisted there is no such thing. “There are no negotiations, it’s more spin,” she 103FM radio. “It seems like [Bezalel] Smotrich and his friends don’t have anything to sell or anything to offer because they spend all their time focused on me,” she said, referring to the leader of Religious Zionism, a key member of the Netanyahu bloc.

Shaked said “it won’t happen. I’m running till the end. You can keep the offers.”

She was elected to the current Knesset as Yamina’s No. 2, with Naftali Bennett as chairman. After Bennett resigned the premiership, he turned Yamina over to Shaked. She then made a partnership with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, but opted for the leadership of  Jewish Home earlier this month, while Hendel dropped out of politics.

Right-wing leaders fear that Jewish Home, which is polling below the 3.25% electoral threshold, will not make it back into the Knesset, thus wasting thousands of votes that would otherwise go to Netanyahu, and possibly giving him just enough to muster the majority he needs to form a new government.

While acknowledging that the deal would hinge on the electoral outcome, one right-wing leader said given the Jewish Home’s current poll numbers, “it isn’t like she has other options other than promises.”

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