Ayelet Shaked, the new leader of the Yamina party
Ayelet Shaked, the new leader of the Yamina party Israel National News

The Yamina party, until so recently riding high with its leader serving as prime minister, has now plummeted to possibly its all-time low, just scraping over the electoral threshold with four seats in latest polls. Naftali Bennett having announced that he is taking a time-out from politics, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has assumed the leadership of the party, but the composition of the rest of the slate is by no means certain, nor has the party settled on the segments of the population it aims to attract in the coming elections.

Two party members, Idit Silman and Nir Orbach, are expected to receive realistic positions on the Likud slate as a reward for helping to topple the outgoing government. According to Knesset rules, Shaked needs to ensure that at least two party members aside from herself remain in the party if she wishes to receive funding for Yamina's electoral campaign. Similarly, if the party splits with at least three members leaving together to form a new party, they can claim a share of Yamina's funding for the run-up to elections.

According to the newspaper Yediot Aharonot, MKs Shirley Pinto and Abir Kara are expected to stick with Shaked. MK Matan Kahana, however, until recently Religious Affairs Minister and now Deputy Minister, is being wooed by both Gideon Sa'ar of New Hope and Benny Gantz of Blue White, and has yet to decide where his political future lies, though it appears that he is tending toward accepting a place on Blue & White's slate.

Shaked is due to meet with Kahana on Sunday to hear his final decision on what he is about to announce. Either way, Kahana has no intention of joining up with Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, or with Itamar Ben Gvir or Netanyahu. Like former party leader Bennett, Kahana is in favor of forming a broad government with elements from all parts of the political spectrum.

With its future so uncertain, Yamina has commissioned polls to assess its preferred target population and to decide on its future political partners. Shaked is expected to attempt to appeal to the wider population and not just Religious-Zionist elements, with the message that she is the person who can bring together left and right, achieving that elusive unity which politicians claim the people want, and bring about important reforms in the economy as well as spearhead other important initiatives. As such, she rules out neither sitting with Ben Gvir nor with Mansour Abbas of Ra'am (the United Arab List).

On Saturday, former Yamina director Stella Weinstein attacked former Yamina MK Idit Silman at a "Shabbatarbut" (Sabbath-day cultural event) held in Rishon Letziyon. "Idit Silman has joined up with Ibtissam Mara'ana and now believes in two states for two peoples," she accused, referring to an Arab-Israeli Knesset member with the Labor party.

According to Weinstein, all Silman had in mind when abandoning the government was the plum position she expected (and is rumored to have been promised) to receive from the Likud party. "They may lie, but I've worked with her and I've seen for myself," Weinstein said, before going on to allege that Silman first approached the Blue & White party and also the Yesh Atid party, looking to be assured a safe position on their party slates. Weinstein added that Silman would even have joined the Joint List party, a predominantly Arab party which has yet to join a single government.

In response, Yamina officials said, "Stella Weinstein never did a thing for the party even though she received a huge salary of 30 thousand shekels a month, and the lack of success of the Yamina party is largely due to her. Her frustration is understandable as Abir Kara did not agree to resign from the Knesset [under the Norwegian Law] to enable her to take a Knesset seat."

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu telephoned to acting Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Friday to congratulate him on his new position. "I wish you - and all of us - four months of peace and quiet on the security front," Netanyahu said.