Shaked Vying to Position Yamina as Election Kingmaker

The Yamina chairwoman hopes to add at least one known figure to the party's slate – and fill the rest with lawmakers loyal to her

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Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, flanked by Yamina lawmakers Shirly Pinto and Matan Kahana, in the Knesset, on Wednesday.
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, flanked by Yamina lawmakers Shirly Pinto and Matan Kahana, in the Knesset, on Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

As the new leader of the Yamina party, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has commissioned a study into the party's electoral prospects if it expresses readiness to join a coalition led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as to examine whether the party's voter base support or oppose the former prime minister and the maximum number of votes it would get in the November election.

Former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who previously chaired the right-wing Yamina party, announced on Wednesday that he will not be running in the next election. Shaked, his number 2 in the party, will be leading the faction in the upcoming election, following the dissolution of the Knesset.

According to sources in Yamina, Shaked ordered the survey last week, and is waiting on its results in order to mold aspects of Yamina's campaign and bring new lawmakers on board.

One of the strategies she is considering is presenting the faction as a kingmaker for both the pro- and anti-Netanyahu blocs. This would force the blocs to form a broad unity government. It is still too early to tell whether Shaked will campaign with this strategy, or whether it is feasible.

Shaked wants to emphasize economic issues in the campaign, and she believes she can convince party members Abir Kara and Shirly Pinto to join Yamina's slate for this election as well. Kara advanced several economic policies during the past government, which Shaked believes can be presented as Yamina's achievements.

On Sunday, Shaked is scheduled to meet with Matan Kahana, a cabinet member from Yamina, and the two will discuss his place on the party's slate. Chances are slim, though, that Kahana will run with the party again; he will likely join another slate for the next election.

At this point, the party chair is uninterested in adding figures to her faction's slate for their names alone; Shaked prefers that her candidates be loyal to her. The sources believe that she will bring on at least one known figure, and that the rest of the Yamina slate will be Shaked loyalists.

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