It appears that Bayit Yehudi’s Ayelet Shaked will be made Justice Minister in Israel’s next government, Israel Radio reported.
Bayit Yehudi party chairman, Nir Orbach said, that talks with the Likud are now in a very sensitive state, and “all options are open,” including the Justice portfolio going to Shaked—which, incidentally, was a promise made to the voters by party chief Naftali Bennett at the onset of the campaign, back in January.
Orbach wrote to Bayit Yehudi activists Wednesday morning that unity and cohesiveness have awarded the party with unprecedented achievements and an opportunity for real impact on the future of the country.
Speculation is that, should the current intense talks reach a positive outcome, Bayit Yehudi would indeed come out the big winner, despite its loss of 4 seats in the March 17 vote. Netanyahu is desperate to seal a deal by midnight, and Bennett is taking full advantage of that.
With Shaked in charge of Justice, she will be able, for the first time since 1967, to start reforming this office’s largely anti-settler, left-entrenched civil service, starting with the appointment of the next Attorney General. She will also be able to reform the process of appointing judges, including supreme court justices, shifting the balance of power in the committee to appoint judges, which to date has been dominated by a closed circle of professionals, with lawmakers—the representatives of the voter’s will—in the minority.
Having control of the Justice Ministry will also balance out the Chareidi control over the Ministry of Religious Affairs, since the Justice Ministry enforces government decisions. The Justice Ministry also controls the appointment of Rabbinic judges, along with the enforcement of kashrut laws. This means that restaurants and other food-related businesses could be allowed to buy their independent kashrut supervision—regardless of the policy set up by the Shas run ministry of religious services.
Update: Benjamin Netanyahu pulled a twist on Naftali Bennett, reportedly agreeing that Shaked could be Minister of Justice, but with a few very significant restrictions, specifically that Shaked would not have the ability to select judges or other judicial appointments, and won’t be sitting on the ministerial committee for legislation and the judicial appointments committee. Bennett has said he will only accept a while Justice Ministry.
Also, Bayit Yehudi scored two seats in Netanyahu’s security cabinet, which will influence countless choices, including the treatment of settlers.
Despite settling for the less influential Education portfolio, going to Bennett, the party leader will also be deputy minister of defense, a role which would give him control over specific departments in the ministry.
And Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel is likely to be given ministerial control over the Agriculture Ministry with the Settlement Division, which should favor expansion of settlement building, as well as support services.
So far, Bayit Yehudi denied reports from Likud sources that they demanded the defense portfolio in negotiations. According to Bayit Yehudi, they’re only insisting on Ayelet Shaked getting the Justice portfolio, which they say Netanyahu promised her months ago.
Senior politicians now tell Israel Radio the crisis is over, and Netanyahu is going to present a 61-seat government to the president tonight. A Likud source said the new proposal made to Bennett was “rich and fair.”
It’s about time.
Update: The rumor mill says that Shaked’s appointment will have certain restrictions, specifically related to the appointment of judges.