Shaked willing to join Gantz in future Netanyahu government
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Shaked willing to join Gantz in future Netanyahu government

Justice minister says Netanyahu likely to invite main election challenger to join Likud-led coalition after his inevitable reelection next month

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is presented with the state comptroller's annual report at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on March 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is presented with the state comptroller's annual report at the Ministry of Justice in Jerusalem on March 24, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, co-leader of the New Right party, on Thursday said she would not rule out joining a future Likud-led government that includes his main election rival, Blue and White party chief Benny Gantz.

“I can say in full confidence that we won’t join a government led by Benny Gantz,” Shaked told Army Radio in an interview. “If the prime minister invites Gantz to join his government — and there is a significant chance that he will — we won’t have a problem with joining. Gantz is not ineligible.”

“My guess is after the elections, and after Trump releases his Mideast peace plan, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will ask Gantz to join his coalition,” she said.

Shaked went on to criticize Gantz, claiming the former IDF chief was not fit to be prime minister due to his lack of experience and “leftist” views.

“If I need to decide between Netanyahu or Gantz, of course I’ll endorse Netanyahu. Gantz was an unimpressive chief of staff, a failed businessman and has no experience in politics. Also, he is a leftist,” she said.

Speaking later Thursday at the Haaretz newspaper’s Democracy Conference in Tel Aviv, Shaked doubled down on her vow not to join a Gantz-led government.

“If by some chance he does get elected, I’ll join the opposition and make his life miserable,” she told attendees.

“There’s no way that will happen, so stop living in a fantasy,” Shaked said. “The right-wing bloc is so strong that [the left] can’t even put up a fight.”

Netanyahu is locked in a tough election fight with Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff who formed the Blue and White party, a centrist political alliance, with Yair Lapid.

After his maiden political speech in January, Gantz’s campaign surged in popularity and opinion polls showed Blue and White gaining against Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Blue and White’s centrist positions and its security credentials — it includes three former military chiefs of staff — have helped it beat back Netanyahu’s claims that its leaders are “weak” leftists.

But though the party continues to maintain a slight lead over Likud in polls, Netanyahu currently remains more likely to be able to form a governing coalition following the April 9 elections.

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