Interior Minister and Zionist Spirit party chairperson Ayelet Shaked was not surprised by deputy minister Matan Kahana's decision to join Benny Gantz, Gideon Sa'ar, and Gadi Eizenkot.
"I expected the move by Matan Kahana," Shaked said in an interview with Arutz Sheva - Israel National News. "We had a lot of discussions recently and in the end, he made his decision. I respect him a lot, I appreciate him, and I wish him much success. I believe his place is on the right, not on the center-left.
The minister said that in private discussions between the two, Kahana asked that if a unity government is to be formed, Gantz will serve as prime minister first in a rotation. "I told him that we won't decide on the matter, but we will push for a unity government. In my opinion, if we don't form a unity government, there will be a left-wing government, with the Arab Joint List. Today, if you ask Sa'ar, Gantz, and Lapid what their plan is, they don't have one, because they want a unity government without the Likud, and that's impossible. In the end, the center-left bloc consists of two parties, one boycotts half of the nation, and the other boycotts half of the nation politely."
Shaked says that Gantz and Sa'ar's merger with Eizenkot taught her that the party's direction is to the left. "Gadi Eizenkot is very worthy, but he's a leftist. He says that the separation from Palestinians, that is, creating a Palestinian state, is motivating him to enter politics. We've also seen that Gantz has met with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and is pushing for a Palestinian state."
In her opinion, the United Arab List (Ra'am) shouldn't be included in the next government. "We learned from the last government that you can't rely on a non-Zionist party, and that will not happen again."
When asked why she's still in the current government, Shaked answers, "I've been part of the government until now, and I don't intend on abandoning it to the left-wing parties. Every day I see how important I am in the government. Just this week I dealt with a building project in Jerusalem, that wouldn't have been moved forward by the government if not for me."
The minister is optimistic about her party's chances in the upcoming elections. "In the polls, we are floating around four seats, and we are certainly open to more mergers, surely the Jewish Home, as well as with other strong national religious entities. Throughout the years I don't think the religious Zionists have had a representative more loyal than myself. I've proven that I stand up for the religious Zionist interests and ideals in every government."