Ministering Justice

A Conversation With Ayelet Shaked

Ayelet Shaked

  • Country: Israel
  • Title: Minister of Justice

Ayelet Shaked is a relative new­comer to Israeli politics. Shaked, 40, served as Benjamin Netanyahu’s office manager before breaking with the prime minister and joining Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party in 2012 and then winning election to the Knesset in 2013. Following the 2015 election, Shaked was named Israel’s minister of justice. Since then, she has courted controversy with a number of moves that critics call undemocratic, such as promoting a bill that would highlight which nongovernmental organ­izations (NGOs) get a majority of their funding from foreign governments. Shaked, who worked as a software engi­neer before entering politics, recently spoke to Foreign Affairs’ managing editor, Jonathan Tepperman, in Tel Aviv. 

You’ve been justice minister for a year now. Which accomplishments are you most proud of?

One is the nomination of judges. I’ve already nominated 100 judges [to fill vacant posts], which is a lot. Also, we are doing a lot of things to reform the legal system, to alleviate court backlogs, to reform the bankruptcy law. I’m trying to find any business regulations that I can relax.

The transparency bill is also important, but it hasn’t passed yet. And the terror bill, which the Knesset has tried to pass for more than five years without success, will pass next month [in June]. It’s also very important; it gives the Shabak [Israel’s internal security service, also known as the Shin Bet] and the police new tools to fight terror.

What kind of tools?

For example, it allows them, in specific circumstances, to prohibit a suspect from seeing a lawyer for 21 days. Things like that.

What’s it like to be a leader of the Jewish Home—a political party known as the main voice for religious settlers—as a secular woman and Tel Aviv resident?

The fact that I was elected to my post in an open party primary shows that Jewish Home voters are very open and very liberal. I see my party as

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