Ayelet Shaked Blasts Netanyahu for 'Irrational Animosity' Toward Her

Yamina chairwoman says that despite Netanyahu's attempts to sabotage her party on the eve of the election, she would still recommend him for prime minister

Ayelet Shaked at a campaign rally in Tel Aviv, September 5, 2019.
Moti Milrod

Yamina Chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is attempting to sabotage her party on the eve of the election, because he and those close to him harbor "an irrational animosity" toward her.

During a televised speech, Shaked said that Netanyahu's "fixation on her" takes precedence over the good of the nation and that he "never really wanted us in the government." She added that "Netanyahu wants to make me and my party out as small, lame and uninfluential."

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Despite her criticism, Shaked also said her party would recommend Netanyahu for prime minister.

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"My associates and I always allied with Netanyahu in complicated political maneuvers. I want right-wing voters to ask themselves why Netanyahu is always trying to destroy our party." 

The far-right leader and former justice minister said she was "personally hurt" by Netanyahu's attitude toward her.

Over the past few days, Netanyahu ran a blitz campaign in which he called on right-wing voters to choose Likud at the expense of smaller right-wing parties, including Otzma Yehudit – which he claimed would not pass the electoral threshold.

Shaked displayed graphs demonstrating the gap between the Likud campaign's claims about the most recent polling data and the real numbers. She urged voters not to believe the Likud when they "cry wolf", saying that the campaign is meant to "cannibalize" the other right-wing parties.

The Yamina leader even criticized the prime minister's announcement that he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley if reelected, saying that the map he presented during his speech was not "the real map."

Shaked refused to answer reporters' queries about whether Netanyahu's animosity toward her originates from his wife, Sara, and son, Yair.

Likud responded to Shaked's accusations on Twitter, writing: "Even Shaked, who just two months ago tried to join the Likud, knows that it doesn't matter if her party gets one seat more or less. But if the Likud isn't the biggest party, we'll wind up with a leftist government of Lapid-Gantz and the Arab parties."

Last week, Shaked announced she had agreed to a deal according to which Yamina's entry into the coalition would be contingent on creating a migration court whose decisions could not be appealed.

Rivlin urges politicians to keep campaigns clean

President Reuven Rivlin made his first public comments regarding the election campaign on Sunday, criticizing the harsh language that politicians have used against different segments of the population.

"It's painful what a harsh level of discourse we have come to in this election cycle," he wrote on his Twitter account.

Rivlin's comments were in response to a tweet by Shas Chairman Arye Dery who wrote: "I asked the honorable president why he doesn't reject the calls to boycott the ultra-Orthodox? Why doesn't he demand that Lapid, Gantz and Lieberman stop boycotting an entire population? To my dismay, the president is silent."

Rivlin responded to Dery despite his recent refusal to be interviewed or speak about political matters until after the election.

In his response, Rivlin added: "My friend Rabbi Arye, anyone who knows me like you do knows very well how much the invalidation of any community in the Israeli public hurts me, including the ultra-Orthodox community."

The president justified his silence regarding the election by quoting the biblical prophet Amos – "the prudent keep quiet at such times."

Over the past several weeks, Rivlin has rejected all inquiries from the press. He has also refused to write an opinion or record a message encouraging the public to vote, as is custom.

Given that neither the right-wing or left-wing bloc has a clear path to a majority in the Knesset, and the possible complications that could keep both sides from reaching the necessary 61 seats to form a majority bloc, the president has committed to a "vow of silence" on the matter until September 18.