Photo Credit: Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Communications Minsiter Yoaz Hendel used to be partners, July 27, 2022.

Four days before the deadline for submitting election slates for the 25th Knesset, the partnership between Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel was dissolved. The two founded the Zionist Spirit party only six weeks ago, now it appears their partnership is the Zionist Ghost.

Officially, the crisis was caused by Hendel’s refusal to add the old Habayit Hayehudi to the party, even though Habayit Hayehudi was an empty shell with very few real members, a shadow of its former self which won 12 mandates in the 2013 election.


The real reason for the split, like so much of this election campaign, was, of course, Likud Chairman and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Handel insisted that under no circumstances would the party enter a Netanyahu-led coalition government, while Shaked favored the move. Of course, seeing as their party didn’t get above 1.1% of the votes in all the recent polls––well below the 3.25% threshold––the debate was moot.

Globes’ political correspondent Shirit Avitan Cohen tweeted about Handel’s stinky maneuver: on Saturday night, Shaked asked him to dissolve the partnership in the Zionist spirit, but Hendel asked to postpone the announcement to the media because he was flying to New York. In the meantime, Hendel officially informed Yedioth that he was the one who dissolved the partnership.

The term stinky maneuver was coined by Yitzhak Rabin to describe his arch-enemy Shimon Peres’s attempt to establish a narrow leftist-Haredim government headed by him in 1990, instead of the national unity government headed by Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir. The attempt failed: although Peres was able to muster a majority to overthrow the government through a vote of no confidence, he was unable to obtain the support required to establish a narrow government under his leadership. Shamir then established a narrow right-wing government, with the support of the Haredi parties.

Avitan Cohen advised Shaked to quickly establish a right-wing list by Thursday, the deadline day, renew her cooperation with Habayit Hayehudi, and enlist Moshe Saada. And more importantly: refine her messages.

Moshe Saada is an Israeli lawyer who served for about a year as the Acting Director of the Department of Police Officer Investigations (the Israeli equivalent of Internal Affairs), and for about seven years as the Deputy Director of the same department. After his dismissal from the department, he gave an interview to Amit Segal, in which he criticized the heads of Israel’s law enforcement system, including Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, State Attorney Shay Nitzan, and Police Commissioner, Roni Alsheikh. Saada enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame in Israel over the summer, with many poking holes in his testimony and asking why he saw the light only after hitting the curb.

Hendel issued a statement declaring: “I intend to continue to lead the Zionist Spirit as the only party that represents the normal right, submit the list and fight for these principles and for every vote. There are many Israelis like you who do not want a government with Bibi and Ben Gvir, only a unity government.”

Wait a minute, does this mean that the “normal right” comprises only 1.1% of Israeli voters? Or is this yet another entitled, Eurocentric view of the electorate? And am I turning Woke before your eyes? Help…

Amitai Porat, who was placed third on the Zionist Spirit list, told 103FM Sunday morning that the split was over whether or not, should the choice be between joining a Netanyahu coalition government or dragging the nation to a sixth election campaign, they would pick Bibi or sixth election.

Clearly, the right-wing parties must do their best to oppose as best they can anything Shaked or Hendel be doing between now and November 1, do their best to siphon their votes, and pray that in the end, they cost the right only a few thousand votes. Also, at this point, right-wing voters must commit their votes to the Smotrich-Be Gvir party, to get it above 12 mandates and make it hard for Netanyahu to deceive them and once again invite Benny Gantz into his coalition. Give Religious Zionism 15 mandates and save this country from the left.

And for those who are supporters of Shaked, they should hope that Netanyahu sees a poll indicating Likud would win another seat or two if he gives Shaked a reserved spot on the Likud list. Alternatively, if Shaked’s new list might have a chance of passing and she swears fealty to the right, Netanyahu may decide to support it, to maintain his block’s size while weakening Smotrich and Ben-Gvir.


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