Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said Monday that if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party were to win 40 seats in the next elections, it would ultimately weaken the right wing in Israeli politics.
“If Netanyahu wants 40 seats, that means there will be a left-wing government,” she said at a conference in Jerusalem organized by Hadashot TV news. “Last time Likud had 40 seats we got the disengagement [from Gaza].”
Netanyahu told members of his Likud party last week that their goal was to reach 40 Knesset seats in the next national election, though he stressed that he did not yet know when it would be held.
At the end of 2004, after failing to gain majority support from his own party which had 38 seats, then prime minister and Likud leader Ariel Sharon formed a coalition with the Labor Party to push through his “disengagement plan” to remove all Jewish settlements from the Gaza strip.
Shaked, from the Jewish Home party, said she was concerned that such a rise for Likud, up from its current 30, would marginalize other parties on the right and allow Netanyahu to pick a coalition party from the center or the left.
She then gave possible permutations of the kind of government Netanyahu could form if his party held 40 seats and needed only 21 more to have a majority in the 120 seat Knesset.
“For example, a Likud government with the Zionist Union, or Likud with Yesh Atid,” she said. “The Likud and Netanyahu are always influenced by their coalitions partners. The partners have power.”
Shaked also addressed rumors of early elections, saying that she hoped the government would complete its full term, which ends in November 2019.
“I intend to remain as justice minister for many more years,” she said. “I have several more things to do.”
Earlier in the day Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid scoffed at the idea that Likud would win 40 seats in the next elections.
“We feel powerful now. Bibi [Netanyahu] won’t get 40 seats nor 30 seats. I will win and I will be the next prime minister,” he said.
Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay said earlier in the day that there was no chance his party would sit in a coalition with Netanyahu.
I will not sit in Netanyahu’s government “period. Without ‘but,’ without ‘despite,’ I will not sit,” he said.