"A difficult, complicated, and intricate decision," MK Penina Tamanu Shata (Blue and White) defined the decision she made earlier this week to leave the Yesh Atid party, her party for the past seven years.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva she says: "In politics, difficult but necessary decisions often must be taken. I follow the order of my heart, the order of the day. It was unavoidable but to go with the fact that Gantz made a very courageous decision and the conditions were not simple. It's not a simple matter to taket Blue and White apart."
She says, "Also for me the decision wasn't easy, but circumstances dictated reality. It's good for an emergency/national unity government to start working. Given the state of the coronavirus and the global and health crisis, and even before the economic crisis with over a million Israeli citizens sitting at home, this is something that needs to be addressed in all seriousness with all parts of the political map carrying part of the burden."
Does one make such a decision with the family? You met with party Chairman Yair Lapid. I assume it wasn't an easy conversation?
"Such a decision is a decision by my principles. I'm a person of unity of reconciliation and connection. We see that Israeli society is in a bad state of schism and adding the coronavirus crisis to all this, I made the decision with my husband and family. I met with Yair Lapid to tell him about it, that I decided to leave the political home. I think every Knesset Member and elected public official must be real and go with the public interest."
Lapid gave his blessing on your new path?
"Yair Lapid is a gentleman. He knows my opinions, however we had a difficult and complex conversation with me finally deciding I was leaving Yesh Atid. Lapid wished me success and I with Yesh Atid success, but I think it was a mistake not to enter this government."
What does a religious woman and Ulpana alumna have to do with a party like Yesh Atid?
"I entered Yesh Atid in 2013 knowing Lapid as Center-Right and it was a more diverse party, with people like Rabbi Shai Piron, Aliza Lavie, and Dov Lipman. Yesh Atid of today in my opinion and to my taste I think isn't the same. I think Yesh Atid is a party that believes in its way and principles, only our principles have moved away from each other."
I suppose after your decision, you were harshly criticized by people who saw your move as a betrayal?
"Most Israeli society understands that now is the time for a unity government and I belong to this camp. True, not everyone likes the decisions of every public figure. Ben Gurion said 'I don't know what the people want, but I know what the people need.' They need unity. I was educated on unity and reconciliation and love of the country and if not now then when?"
Will you be the first Ethiopian minister in Israel?
"With G-d's help. I less made the move with agreements over jobs but I'd definitely put all my skills into making a contribution to the future government and coalition."
How are you and your family going through the coronavirus crisis?
"We're all dealing with a situation that's strange to us. The coronavirus crisis is an unprecedented event but with mutual responsibility. The medical teams that work night and day, and I embrace the veteran citizens who sit at home and we'll all get through this period. I wish everyone a happy and kosher Passover holiday."
Yesh Atid campaign HQ Tel Aviv said in response to the Arutz Sheva interview: "Penina Tamanu Shata never opposed Yesh Atid's actions and expressed no ideological doubts until a cushy job was offered to her in the Netanyahu government."