MK Ayelet Shaked:
'Supreme Court established freedom of expression for rabbis'

MK Ayelet Shaked refers to Supreme Court decision regarding Rabbi Eliyahu and sharply criticizes government conduct in operating closure.

Nitzan Kedar ,

Hezki Baruch

Yamina Chairwoman former Justice Minister MK Ayelet Shaked today responded to the Supreme Court ruling that Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu be subjected to disciplinary action.

"This is unnecessary intervention. There is criticism there that I didn't agree to prosecute Rabbi Eliyahu and I thought it was unnecessary. I talked to him about the statements and that was the end of the incident and in my opinion the Supreme Court shouldn't have intervened," Shaked said in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

But according to the former minister, there are also significant positive aspects to the ruling. "Judge Stein, who is a conservative presence in the court I appointed, says the obvious: The rabbi has complete freedom of expression in any statement related to halakhah. It is quite absurd that in our time it isn't clear and there are progressives who undermine this assumption, and it's good that Judge Stein included it in the ruling."

Shaked was asked about government conduct regarding the closure and had severe criticism: "We shouldn't have reached this closure and the fact that we reached a second closure so quickly is a very big failing grade for the government. If it'd only set up systems to interrupt infection chains and enforce the ban on gatherings it would have looked different.

"Government ministers are only involved in debating about the demonstrations and ignoring the fact that there have been countless open weddings here in all sectors. The head of one authority told me that members of his authority were at a wedding with 400 people and 100 of them were infected. Government ministers are busy quarreling with each other."

The Yamina Chairwoman adds that the government also does not communicate well enough to the public the importance of wearing masks. "Wearing a mask also prevents infection and even if you are infected, it happens in a weak way.

"Is the closure effective? We'll wait and see. All leisure activities have been stopped, the education system has been stopped, public sector work has dropped significantly, and most trade has stopped. Overall the vast majority is disciplined, except for a group of protesters trying to destroy, break out, and break solidarity with the demonstrations. The majority obey," she adds.

According to Shaked, we mustn't enter a state of closure that would prevent operating private workplaces. "The closure is a huge economic disaster for the Israeli economy. I very much hope that Minister Katz will stand his ground and leave the private sector open and will not close it.

"Even in today's situation it's a severe economic disaster. We see another 40,000 unemployed, many businesses closing, and bankruptcies. The government has presented a plan of grants and assistance and it must be accompanied by cuts in public sector wages - not only for Knesset members and ministers - but for all who benefits from a high salary and high pension from the public sector. We'll see if they succeed in that."

She notes that in addition to cuts in salaries of MKs and ministers and in addition to the required cuts in the public sector, it is also possible to save a lot of money by closing government ministries set up specifically for the unity government.

"This is a bloated, cumbersome, and dysfunctional government. There are countless unnecessary offices that cost the public millions of shekels. The reduction in salaries of MKs and ministers is only symbolic. The big money is also in the budget pensions of senior civil servants, unnecessary offices, and unnecessary jobs," Shaked said.

The Knesset Member praised the peace agreements signed with the Gulf states but is concerned about the price Israel is paying: "It's really not peace for peace but for renouncing and canceling sovereignty over settlement in Judea and Samaria in exchange for consent to purchase F-35 aircraft and other advanced weapons for the Emirates. I think it's an historic mistake on the part of the Prime Minister that he didn't go to great lengths before the sympathetic U.S. government to apply sovereignty.

"Peace with the Emirates is important and good and I'm happy with it, but it could have been achieved with other governments. The Trump Administration had an historic opportunity to apply sovereignty and I'm sorry it was missed. I suggest not deluding ourselves. I believe Trump and UAE officials who said sovereignty came off the table. When Netanyahu threw Yamina into the opposition and formed a government with Blue and White, it was clear to me that he had given up sovereignty," Shaked concludes.