January 31, 2013 | 9:25 am
Ayelet Shaked is an Israeli politician who was recently elected to the next Knesset as a high-ranking and high-profile member of Naftali Bennett's 'The Jewish home' party. Shaked has served as the office manager for Benjamin Netanyahu when he was leader of the opposition. Additionally, she is one of the co-founders (together with Naftali Bennett) of 'My Israel', a right wing extra-parliamentary Zionist advocacy movement. In the first in a series of Q&A sessions with the new faces of the next Knesset, Shaked discusses the results of the recent elections and what they can teach us about the Israeli public.
What in your opinion is the main message that Israeli voters were sending by their recent vote?
I think the message was that they care more about internal issues and not necessarily about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: They are more interested in the economy, in housing prices and in seeing a more equal distribution of civil responsibilities. People want their day-to-day problems taken care of. Since no one believes that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolvable, the issue has been marginalized."
What will be the 2-3 top items on the next government's agenda?
The first issue is the equal distribution of civil responsibilities: drafting the ultra-orthodox population into the army and introducing them into the workforce; the second issue is taking care of market concentration and of private and public monopolies; then there are the high housing prices. These will be the main issues the next government will concentrate on.
In what way will these elections have an impact on the relations between Israel and Diaspora Jewry?
I don't think they will have a substantial effect. I believe that the connection between Israel and the Jewish community in the United States is very strong and we have to do everything to keep it that way and look after this important strategic asset. If I were in charge of the ministry of diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, I would also look into ways to deepen the connection between Jews all over the world, utilizing Facebook and other social media tools to help keep them informed about what's going on here. That being said, I don't think these elections have really changed anything.
Do you expect these elections to have an impact on US-Israel relations? Can they help Prime Minister Netanyahu improve his relations with President Obama?
Well, Obama is the same Obama, Netanyahu is the same Netanyahu and Abu Mazen (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) is the same Abu Mazen; I don't think anything has changed dramatically. That being said, the United States is an important friend of Israel and hopefully the cooperation between the two countries on security matters will continue to be a healthy and stable one in the future.
Do you expect the next coalition to survive for a long time? What would be the key to its survival?
I don't think I'm equipped to answer that question, seeing that there's no coalition yet- You'll have to ask me after the coalition is established.
What is the main lesson that your own party has learned from the election results?
Well, our success and that of Lapid shows us that the Israeli public appreciates truth and honesty, and cares more about internal affairs, not about foreign policy. After all, Tsipi Livni, who kept talking about the peace process throughout her campaign, was a big failure.
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