Bennett's Successor Could Be Left Without a Party

Ayelet Shaked inherits a fractured party. Rather than gear up for an election campaign, her first task as Yamina head will be to convince her colleagues not to defect

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Ayelet Shaked at a press conference, in May.
Ayelet Shaked at a press conference, in May.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Following Bennett’s resignation on Wednesday, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will assume the leadership of Yamina. Although a poll by Channel 12 News found that Yamina would receive five seats under her leadership— she may be left as a chief bereft of troops.

Just two hours after Naftali Bennett's announced he would not seek reelection, Yamina's CEO Stella Weinstein announced her own resignation.

It is already clear that Idit Silman and Amichi Chikli will part ways with Yamina: Silman to Likud and Chikli apparently in an independent run for the Knesset.

Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana isn’t interested in running with Shaked, and is expected to try to move to another party, perhaps Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan or Gideon Sa’ar's New Hope. Sources close to him said that he will make a decision in the upcoming days.

The likelihood that Nir Orbach and Abir Kara will run under Shaked is also low, but they have yet to make a final decision. Both, in any event, wish to run again in one of the Knesset’s lists. MK Shirly Pinto, who is close to Bennett, might also retire from politics, or also try to find a place in another list.

All of this would create a situation in which Shaked may well remain alone, or with a miniscule number of Knesset members.

Shaked will spend the coming few days in attempts to persuade at least some of her friends to remain in the movement and run with her, particularly Orbach and Kara, with whom she has worked closely.

The question of how many lawmakers run with Shaked is significant both in political and financial terms, with each MK entitled to a funding unit.

On Wednesday morning, the chair of the public committee in charge of the matter determined that the funding unit will stand at 1.6 million shekels. To use these units, several Yamina lawmakers are considering splitting from the party, in which event they will be free to take their funding units to any party in which they run.

A third of lawmakers are required to officially split from a Knesset list, or in Yamina’s case, at least three lawmakers.

Kara, Orbach, and Silman are already looking into such a split, and although they are not expected to run together, they can split again after leaving Yamina. Each of them could go their own way, and could take their funding to whichever party they choose to run with.

Amichai Chikli has been declared a defector, meaning he cannot run in any of the existing lists in the current Knesset, nor will he be able to receive his funding unit. The money will therefore go to Yamina, as part of the sanctions against any rogue lawmaker.

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