Sources close to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett have denounced Interior Minister and Bennett’s political partner and ally for more than a decade Ayelet Shaked, saying she is “heating up the situation with her announcement about the Temple Mount and her blessing for convening a planning council to discuss settlement construction.” According to those sources, cited Sunday morning by Reshet Bet radio, “Shaked sticks fingers in the eye of our coalition partners, and if she continues like this, this coming Knesset session will end right when it starts.”
On Independence Day Thursday, Minister Shaked announced: “Jews on the Temple Mount even on Independence Day, after an all-time record in the number of ascents to Temple Mount this year had been broken.”
That didn’t go over well with Israeli Arabs, both inside the fragile coalition government and in the opposition. Members of the Shura Council of the Islamic Movement are threatening to resign if MK Mansour Abbas’ Ra’am party does not withdraw for good from the coalition in response to the renewed entry of Jewish worshipers into the Temple Mount compound. Last month, in response to police putting down vicious Arab riots on the Temple Mount, Ra’am announced it was suspending its membership in the coalition as an interim solution towards its possible withdrawal and the overthrow of the government.
And then, if that wasn’t enough, on Friday, Shaked wrote that she “welcomes the convening of the Supreme Planning Council ahead of the construction of about 4,000 housing units, including the community of Mitzpe Danny, which is especially important to me, and which I have been accompanying for many years. Construction in Judea and Samaria is a fundamental, necessary, and obvious principle.”
PM Bennett has an urgent need to appease his coalition partners quietly, so he was in no hurry to issue announcements about the Planning Council and the Temple Mount. On paper, PM Bennett should be as supportive of those two statements as his loyal partner is, but the realities of leading a government with an ever-diminishing base in his own party (Yamina started out with 7 seats, but is down to 5) have given rise to the anonymous attacks on Shaked emanating from the PM’s office, blaming her for the coming collapse of the government.
There’s no smoke without fire, and according to several media reports last Friday, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, MK Nir Orbach, and Deputy Minister Abir Kara, who comprise at least half of Bennett’s Yamina party, have been holding several meetings and agreed to maintain complete secrecy and not to leak a word from the contents of their meetings.
The common assessment among members of the Yamina faction is that the Shaked-Orbach-Kara trio is expected to set a target date for their split from Yamina and establish an independent faction since no one today believes this coalition government will be with us for too long. The law allows one-third of faction members to split and form an independent faction without losing their parliamentary and political rights, and, of course, funding. They will then likely negotiate with the Likud for posts in the next government and realistic slots on the Likud election slate.
Bennett assigned to MK Orbach the role of Coalition Chairman, which had been given up by MK Idit Silman when she quit the Yamina party. Orbach rejected the appointment for two reasons: first, the demands he made as his conditions for staying after Silman’s retirement have not yet been met. Second, he wants to see what the first weeks of the coming Knesset summer session will look like and would the coalition be stabilized, especially in light of the never-ending crises with Ra’am.
Abbas Posted on Facebook Friday: “I have informed the Prime Minister and the Alternate Prime Minister of our clear and decisive position after meeting with the King of Jordan. The demands and positions regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be accepted and conducted by the King of Jordan, Abdullah II, who is the sponsor of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Holy Places in Jerusalem. We stress that the permanent solution is to end the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, with its capital, Jerusalem, in whose heart is the Al-Aqsa Mosque.”
And when Abbas and all the other Arab politicians, clergy, and terrorists say “Al-Aqsa Mosque,” they don’t mean just the building, but the entire compound which we, Jews, refer to as “the Temple Mount.”