Israel Can 'Definitely' Absorb 100,000 West Bank Palestinians, Justice Minister Says

'It’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party. You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist,' Ayelet Shaked tells The Atlantic

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, last month.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, last month.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that Israel is able to absorb and grant citizenship to 100,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank, she told The Atlantic in an interview published Tuesday.

In an interview with Israeli anchorwoman Yonit Levi, Shaked expressed her support for the annexation of Area C, the part of the West Bank that is under Israeli control. She said public opinion about the plan will gradually change. "People will see what’s going on in the Middle East and realize that it really could happen," she added.

Shaked acknowledged that annexation could put Israel at odds with the United States, especially if Democrats take the White House in 2020. "Sadly, it’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party. You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist," Shaked said.

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Ayelet Shaked with Naftali Bennett in February 2018.Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Shaked also said that the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi (her party) and Education Minister Naftali Bennett is "best suited to be prime minister." Shaked, however, did not rule out the idea of taking the office in the "distant future."

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“The governments that were in power before Naftali Bennett and I went into politics, before the Jewish Home [Habyit Hayehudi] party gained strength, were right-wing governments that carried on with the policies of the left," she said.

"They didn’t try to change the DNA of the various systems [the justice system, the media, academia]," Shaked added. She had set herself a goal of changing the Israeli right.

"I think the entire right wing, and certainly religious Zionism and the whole conservative camp, can no longer whine about being underrepresented [in the courts],” Shaked said.

Shaked doesn't rule out premiership for herself, but stressed that Bennett would be the best choice "post-Netanyahu era."

In reference to the nation-state law, which faced a growing backlash in Israel and abroad, Shaked said that "there is no contradiction between the fact that Israel has full personal equality of citizenship but extends national rights only to the Jewish people."

"Perhaps if the words Jewish and democratic had been included in the final version, it would have been easier to swallow," she added.

After the law passed, Shaked gave an interview on the radio where she said "it will be an earthquake" if the Supreme Court would revoke it. She said that she didn't mean to threaten the court: “I was describing a given situation: The supreme court will not do that. If it had done something like that, it certainly would have led to a war between the authorities.”

Former Supreme Court Chief Dorit Beinisch attacked Shaked for the remarks, saying in The Atlantic piece that the minister's "declaration goes beyond the normal tension between the branches of government."

"It is a threat against the court before it has issued its verdict, an act that constitutes a blow to judicial independence. There is a lack of understanding here of what a democracy is," Beinisch said. There needs to be a balance between the divisions of the branches' roles, she said.

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