Likud Will Form a Government With Gantz, Netanyahu's Son Says

The move would be a way to stymie the prime minister’s rival on the right, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked at the Yamina party campaign launch, August 12, 2019.
\ Moti Milrod

Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister’s elder son, has told an emissary of far-right leader Ayelet Shaked that Likud will form a government with Benny Gantz’s centrist Kahol Lavan party.

The written remark, which was obtained by Haaretz, was made as part of the emissary’s efforts to reduce the Netanyahu family’s resistance to having the former justice minister join Likud.

In the correspondence between the younger Netanyahu and the emissary, Elyashiv Amitzur, the prime minister’s son wrote about Likud’s political plans: “We’ll close with Gantz, and we’ll go hard on Shaked. We’ll reveal her leftism.”

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In another message, Yair Netanyahu wrote to Amitzur that Shaked had hooked up with Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman and her party colleague Naftali Bennett to depose Benjamin Netanyahu. Shaked has repeatedly said in recent weeks that the prime minister prefers to join up with Gantz than to set up a right-wing government.

Shaked began her efforts to receive a reserved spot on the Likud ticket immediately after the Knesset was dissolved in May, and continued to try until the morning she was declared chairwoman of her Hayamin Hehadash party. Last week Haaretz reported that emissaries for Shaked had suggested to Netanyahu that she could influence the attorney general in his favor in the corruption cases against him. The emissaries even suggested full support for a process that would grant Netanyahu immunity and prevent a trial.

Amitzur was one of the main intermediaries between Shaked and Likud officials in the effort to reserve her a spot on the Likud slate for the September election. He and Yair Netanyahu have corresponded frequently, and the latter maintained contact despite the hostility he showed toward Shaked. The reason might be the message Netanyahu sent to Amitzur in which he wrote that Shaked “is more dangerous outside than inside.”

To encourage Yair to yield to Shaked, Amitzur wrote about the “absolute loyalty” of Shaked to his father, and added, “I’m prepared to sell my daughter for this.” The correspondence between the two is currently in the possession of senior political figures.

Amitzur repeatedly tried to set up meetings with Yair, but the prime minister’s son, suspicious, refused. He did, however, refer Amitzur to his friend Yedidya Zmora, a resident of the Beit Hagai settlement.

In the past Zmora was very active in the Likud youth movement. Now he is in the career army while continuing his political activity. When the Knesset elections were moved up this year, Zmora tweeted a few times in favor of Shaked joining Likud. After the slates were closed, he wrote that he regretted having supported this.

Zmora did not respond to Haaretz’s queries for this article. Yair Netanyahu called it “an article full of lies and distortions.”

Acquaintances of Amitzur describe him as an energetic man who knows how to execute assignments quickly, saying he won Shaked’s confidence with his loyalty and diligence. Officially he was Shaked’s driver, but he has acted as her emissary on sensitive issues.

TheMarker has reported that Amitzur was in frequent contact with Efraim Nave when the latter was chairman of the Israel Bar Association and that Nave helped him get lawyers to join Habayit Hayehudi, Shaked and Bennett’s party before they split off and formed Hayamin Hehadash. For example, Nave worked to get a hundred employees of the Lirom Sende law firm to join Habayit Hayehudi, arranging conversations between Amitzur and one of the partners.

In December 2017, Amitzur left the Justice Ministry but continued to support Shaked. In a Facebook post when he left the ministry, Shaked wrote, “Eliyashiv Amitzur, my dear assistant, has decided to spread his wings and fly. For two and a half years he was with me every minute of the day with all his heart and soul. Best of luck, dear Elyashiv, on your project. The sky’s the limit! And thanks for everything.”

After Hayamin Hehadash failed to enter the Knesset in the April election, Amitzur joined Likud and said he would start recruiting new members to the party as an “infrastructure” for Shaked. He said he recruited between 3,000 and 6,000 people, but others say this is greatly exaggerated.

In an effort to improve the relationship between Shaked and the Netanyahu family, Amitzur approached the prime minister’s son and tried to win his confidence. Earlier this year, after he had met Sara Netanyahu in China by chance, he wrote a Facebook post in which he described her with warm words and wrote that she was sought after by the media.

But despite the many efforts and intermediaries, Shaked couldn’t break through the wall of objection. In the end, Shaked was given the option of joining Likud, but she refused to run in the party’s primary and demanded a reserved spot on the ticket. When she didn’t get what she wanted, she preferred to head the Hayamin Hehadash party, and later the wider Yamina movement.