'Netanyahu's sovereignty promise is worrying'

Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the Yamina party, praises PM's statement regarding sovereignty - but says it's just a statement.

Refael Levi ,

Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shaked
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Yamina Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday responded to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's promise to annex the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area.

"Netanyahu's statement, if we look at statements, is important," Shaked told Kan Reshet Bet. "When we entered politics, [Naftali] Bennett and I, Netanyahu gave a speech in Bar Ilan University about a Palestinian state, and we published our plans for applying sovereignty."

"Everyone thought we were nutcases, and I'm happy that a few years have passed and people are starting to use the terminology of applying sovereignty. But we need to understand that this is just a statement, there's no intention to actually carry through. When [former Prime Minister] Menachem Begin decided to apply sovereignty to the Golan Heights, he pushed a bill through and had it approved in three Knesset votes that same day. When he was asked why he doesn't ask the Americans, he said: 'Because if I asked them, they would tell me no.'"

Shaked also noted that applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley depends on the government's decision: "There's no need for legislation, and certainly if there is a diplomatic need then we can do it even in a temporary government. There's no legal obstacle to it. We will keep the statement and it is important in and of itself, it's important that the Prime Minister is talking about applying sovereignty."

Netanyahu's statement, she said, is also worrying, since "he decided to tell us what the carrots in US President Donald Trump's plan are, but he didn't tell us what the sticks are. After all, Trump's plan talks - as far as we know - about the division of Jerusalem and the evacuation of newer settlements - things which we do not agree to."

"Every party has a job in the coalition, and our job is to pull towards the right," she explained. "So anyone who wants these promises fulfilled needs to vote for Yamina."

"Applying sovereignty to the Jordan Valley is a good start and it's important, but applying sovereignty only to Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria and leaving us with Palestinian enclaves - that's just bad."

Regarding the rocket fire from Gaza Tuesday evening, which interrupted Netanyahu's speech in Ashdod, Shaked said: "I'm certainly not happy that there were rockets during his campaign. The residents of Ashkelon, Ashdod, and the areas around Gaza suffer every day. I visit the south a lot and I speak with mothers and children and residents, it's not a simply reality and at the end of the day we aren't going to have a choice, we're going to need to conduct an operation in Gaza."

"The army knows how to do it. There's a lot what to do in order to deal with Hamas once and for all and significantly weaken it. With eight Knesset seats and two Cabinet members we won't manage to do everything, but what's more important is that after the operation, we'll need to use the 'lawnmower' method like we did in Samaria after Operation Defensive Shield, so that every terror cell which lifts its head will have it cut off immediately.

"The whole idea of the operation is what happens afterwards. We cannot let Hamas gain strength. The 'quiet for quiet' policy allows Hamas to gain strength and rearm, and that's what we need to prevent, so that we don't have a situation in like the one Hezbollah reached, where it has 130,000 rockets aimed at the State of Israel."

Shaked concluded: "Netanyahu wants us small and weak, the left wants us small and weak so that we'll go back to being religious-oriented instead of dominant like we were in the last government. We need a double-digit number of Knesset seats in order to be significant. The lesson we learned from the last government is not to get stuck on portfolios, but it's obvious that the larger we are the more influence we have."