Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) cast doubt on the prospects for a lasting peace with the upcoming White House Mideast peace plan, calling the much-anticipated plan a “waste of time”.
Speaking at The Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference Wednesday morning, Shaked expressed was pessimism regarding the chances for President Donald Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ to secure a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
"I think that the gap between the Israelis and Palestinians is much too big to be bridged,” said Shaked.
“Personally, I think [the Trump peace plan] is a waste of time. I want peace like anyone else, but right now it’s a waste of time."
The White House, which is finalizing its Middle East peace plan, is reportedly scheduled to decide on its release date at a special meeting this week. No details of the plan have been released, though Trump administration envoys have suggested it will require major concessions from both sides.
Shaked also expressed pessimism regarding the recent ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Hamas terror organization, signed last Tuesday following a massive wave of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on southern Israel.
"The ceasefire will hold for a few months - and then it will break. If the ceasefire won't continue, we won't have the option not to do anything. We will have to use more force against Hamas."
The Justice Minister claimed that Israeli deterrence has been in decline for years, emboldening the Gaza-based terror group.
"Over the past two years, Israel has lost some of its deterrence, and Hamas has grown stronger."
"If we look at the results, over the past two years Hamas definitely," grew bolder, "and we lost deterrence."
Turning to the ongoing coalition crisis in the Likud-led government, Shaked stood by her party’s demand that party chief Naftali Bennett be tapped as Defense Minister following former minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation.
After a political standoff with Prime Minister Netanyahu earlier this week, however, the Jewish Home walked back threats it would topple the government. Netanyahu assumed the position of Defense Minister in place of Liberman, whose five-member Yisrael Beytenu party dropped out of the coalition last week, leaving the government with a bare-minimum majority of 61 MKs in the 120-member Knesset.
"I think the right decision was to nominate Naftali Bennett to be Minister of Defense,” the Justice Minister said.
"We have many challenges. The job of prime minister is perhaps the toughest job in the world, and I think he needs a full-time defense minister [to assist]."
"Sometimes in political life you win, sometimes you lose."
While the Jewish Home remained in the Netanyahu government, averting its immediate collapse and snap elections, Shaked said it was unclear how long the narrow coalition could survive.
"I don't know [if government will hold together]. It will be very hard to hold the coalition together with 61 [MKs]."