Shaked swipes at Kahana as he leaves Yamina for ‘statesmanlike left-wing camp’

Zionist Spirit leader says ‘things have become clearer’ as ex-colleague chooses Gantz-led alliance over their former joint home Yamina, in latest blow to party

Deputy Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana speaks with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)
Deputy Minister of Religious Services Matan Kahana speaks with Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked in the Knesset on May 16, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Zionist Spirit leader Ayelet Shaked on Sunday took a swipe at her erstwhile colleague Matan Kahana after the latter chose to join the new National Unity electoral alliance instead of remaining with the Yamina party.

Kahana’s decision to switch parties came as former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot announced his long-awaited entry into politics, also joining the newly rebranded center-right union of the Blue and White and New Hope parties.

Both Shaked and Kahana were close political allies of former prime minister Naftali Bennett, who handed control of the right-wing Yamina to Shaked after he resigned in June following the collapse of the government.

Shaked has since joined her Yamina party with the Derech Eretz faction to create Zionist Spirit, after polls showed the party struggling to clear the minimum vote threshold and numerous members refused to stick with her.

“I wish success to my friend Matan Kahana on his new path, and to Gadi Eisenkot on joining politics,” Shaked wrote on Twitter.

“There’s no doubt that this is good news for the statesmanlike left-wing camp and left-wing voters,” she added in a jibe at the right-wing Kahana.

Addressing her own supporters, Shaked continued, “we will ensure that in any government that is established, they won’t be able to advance their shared vision with Gantz of establishing a Palestinian state.”

“Things have become clearer to the statesmanlike right. There is only one home — the Zionist Spirit.”

Kahana’s decision to bolt Yamina leaves the faction with just three remaining Knesset members: Shaked, Yomtob Kalfon and Abir Kara.

Another Yamina lawmaker, Nir Orbach, is not expected to run again with the party after helping bring down the coalition, and may seek to join another faction.

Gadi Eisenkot (left) and Benny Gantz are seen at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, February 16, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Kahana, who is Modern Orthodox, could potentially draw support from voters on the so-called “soft right” disenchanted by elements of opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing religious bloc, which includes the far-right Religious Zionism party.  He is due to get the ninth slot on the National Unity’s electoral list.

Eisenkot will take the third spot in Hamahane Hamamlachti, which roughly translates to National Unity, behind Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar.

Gantz and Sa’ar joined political fortunes in July and on Sunday rebranded their joint slate from the unwieldy name Blue and White-New Hope.

Most Popular
read more: