Ayelet Shaked held talks on joining Likud after Silman quit coalition — report

TV network says interior minister was told by officials in Netanyahu’s party she could have any post if she leaves Yamina — but decided to stick with government for now

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport on March 13, 2022. (Roy Alima/Flash90)
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked holds a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport on March 13, 2022. (Roy Alima/Flash90)

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked reportedly held talks with Likud about joining the opposition party after Yamina MK Idit Silman quit the coalition this week and left the government without a majority.

Shaked, who is also a member of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Yamina, was told by Likud officials after Silman’s announcement Sunday that she had two hours to decide whether to join the party, or they would look for another Knesset member to defect, Channel 12 news reported Friday.

According to the report, which did not cite a source, the officials told Shaked she could have any role she wanted if she bolted for Likud, which is led by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The network said Shaked rejected the time ultimatum, however, and after meeting with Yamina MKs Nir Orbach and Abir Kara, informed Likud that the three had agreed to act as a group.

Likud officials reportedly offered the Yamina lawmakers reserved spots on its slate in the next election, but Shaked, Kara, and Orbach decided to try to take another crack at shoring up the government.

The report came after Yamina declared rebel MK Amichai Chikli a defector on Thursday, sending a strong message to Kara and Orbach, both of whom met with Bennett the day before.

Nir Orbach (L), Ayelet Shaked (C), and Abir Kara (R). (Flash90)

The coalition — an unlikely alliance of eight disparate parties — has been scrambling to keep other possible renegades in line and project stability, even as it teeters on the brink of collapse following Silman’s departure.

With Silman exiting the coalition but not the Knesset, Bennett’s government holds just 60 of 120 seats. The paths forward for the coalition and the Knesset are not immediately clear, with a new election seen as the most likely outcome, but the timeline still uncertain.

Silman told The Times of Israel’s Hebrew site Zman Yisrael in an exclusive interview Thursday that she was leaving the coalition in protest over the “erosion of Jewish identity” within the government, which includes left-wing and Arab parties alongside her own Yamina and other right-wing factions.

Her departure came days after she publicly criticized Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz over his insistence that hospitals abide by rules allowing hametz — leavened products forbidden by religiously observant Jews over Passover — to be brought into facilities.

Coalition whip MK Idit Silman (L) and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz attend a press conference at the Knesset, on October 6, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

She denied that Likud had pulled her into the opposition by promising a ministerial portfolio and other political benefits, but claimed that the current coalition had offered to give her the Health Ministry to win back her support, which she said she rejected.

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