Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet ShakedOlivier Fitoussi/Flash90

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) rejected claims that Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads her party, prevented the formation of a right-wing government.

In her opinion, a right-wing government was not formed due to the fact that former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not have 61 supporters.

"The one who is most to blame for the fact that there isn't a right-wing government is [MK] Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism)," Shaked told Makor Rishon in an interview. "Netanyahu's plan was to swear in 59 MKs, while relying on the abstention of the United Arab List (Ra'am). He had no other option. We agreed to this process; Smotrich did not agree. He claimed that he had deserters, but there weren't any."

"During Operation Guardian of the Walls in Gaza, I told Bennett that I will not join the 'government of change,' because I thought that this was an opportunity to use the security events to bring [New Hope Chairman MK] Gideon Sa'ar or one of his men. So, Bennett took that off the table then. For two weeks, we spoke with them every day, in an effort to bring them into the government. They weren't willing to hear of it, after they had promised not to sit with Netanyahu, even after a rotation was offered."

According to Shaked, even before Bennett renewed his contacts with Yesh Atid's chairman, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and the leftist parties, she herself met Smotrich at the home of Rabbi Chaim Druckman. There, she told him, "Bennett is willing to sign with Netanyahu, if you are willing to commit in this meeting that if we don't succeed in bringing the deserters that you think there will be, that we will swear in a government of 59, with Ra'am abstaining."

"He absolutely did not agree," she said. "Rabbi Druckman asked him, 'What do you propose?' and he had nothing to offer."

When asked if Yamina would declare that MK Amichai Chikli is no longer part of the party, she said: "The moment he promised me that he would support the Citizenship Law and explained to all the Knesset members from the Likud how important this law is, and at the end at the last moment he came and voted against it and brought down the law - I had no reason to pay attention to him anymore. What we will do about this will be discussed within the party, not in a newspaper."

According to Shaked, construction in Judea and Samaria will continue as it has for the past few years: "Our goal is that what was during the Trump administration will continue during [US President Joe] Biden's presidency as well. We will make efforts to normalize some of the young settlements."

Regarding the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar, an illegal Bedouin outpost, she said: "We need to evacuate Khan al-Ahmar, and we can do it. It doesn't have to be during the government's first month [in power], but it certainly is a goal that the Prime Minister must set for himself. We can't enforce Supreme Court rulings only for Jews."

When asked which issues were red lines for her, for which she would bring down the government, Shaked said, "If the government does something that in my eyes, ideologically, is a serious thing - we won't be part of it. For instance, if the US government demands we freeze construction in Judea and Samaria, there won't be a government."

Smotrich responded: "Ayelet Shaked continues to lie unashamedly. There was an option to form a right-wing government without relying on terror supporters (there were a few options) and she and Bennett torpedoed it with their own hands, due to a hatred of Netanyahu and the desire to be prime minister with six Knesset seats. A lie that is repeated many times does not become truth."