Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Yamina chairwoman Ayelet Shaked arrives to cast her vote, September 17, 2019.

Yamina chairwoman Ayelet Shaked on Thursday morning told Reshet Bet radio that “the bloc with Netanyahu is not a done deal yet, it’s an interesting idea that we will continue to discuss.”

On Wednesday, rightwing party leaders concluded a joint meeting on a single rightwing bloc led by Netanyahu, which would endeavor to create the next government. In addition, they decided to form a joint negotiating team for all the factions in the rightwing bloc.

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In Thursday’s interview, Shaked clarified that despite reports of an agreement among the rightwing party leaders on forming a joint bloc, the matter has yet to be finalized.

Some of the leaders of the rightwing and Haredi parties who met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claim he wants to bring on a third election. According to them, Netanyahu said at their meeting that the voter turnout in Likud strongholds and in the Judea and Samaria settlements was low, and that he was certain that in a third election voter turnout in those locations would be higher.

Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying: “The reports as if the prime minister wants another election are wrong, it’s a fake spin by Lapid and Gantz.”

Except that said reports came from inside the rightwing camp.

Wednesday night, Kan 11 News reported that Netanyahu’s circle does not rule out the possibility of a rotation with Blue&White chairman Benny Gantz for the role of prime minister. According to a source close to Netanyahu, this would be conditioned on B&W removing their personal disqualification of Netanyahu because of his legal situation.

On October 2, right after Rosh Hashanah, Netanyahu is scheduled for a hearing on the indictments pending against him. Should he be unable to convince the prosecution that there’s no reason to indict him, his trial would start shortly thereafter, in which case he would have to divide his attention between fighting to stay out of jail and running the country. Many in Israel believe this is not a workable situation.

As opposition chairman, back in 2008, Netanyahu himself argued that then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should resign because of the grave suspicions against him. “This is a prime minister who has fallen into the throes of investigations up to his neck, and has no public and moral mandate to determine […] fateful things in the State of Israel,” Netanyahu insisted. “There is concern, I must say real – not unsubstantiated, that he will make decisions based on the personal interest of his political survival, and not in the national interest, [because he is] in this particular, all so deep distress.”

Netanyahu’s attack was the final push that resulted in PM Olmert’s resignation, even though there were no indictments against him yet. Nowadays, the Likud insists Netanyahu is innocent until proven guilty – which is true, but not in the opinion of 2008 Netanyahu.

Yamina chairwoman Shaked admitted that she was disappointed with the election results, saying, “Unfortunately, we were only able to retain existing customers and not bring in new customers.”

Shaked blamed PM Netanyahu’s campaign against her party, and the decision of Otzma Yehudit to run on a separate list, for Yamina’s 7 mandates, after the polls had predicted she would score in double digits.

Finally, Shaked expressed her disappointment in her faction partners’ decision to split after the election into their original slates: National Union and Habayit Hayehudi with 4 seats, and New Right with 3.

“It wasn’t done behind my back, but it was contrary to my opinion,” she said. “I think it is right to stay together, who needs so many small parties?”

Shaked said negotiations over the split continue. Besides, it may be time to reunite anyway, ahead of the third 2019 election campaign.

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