Incoming Likud MK Danny Danon suggests that Shas leader Aryeh Deri and Religious Zionism’s Bezalel Smotrich should reduce their demands in coalition negotiations.
“Likud should hold the senior portfolios. Our partners forget that we have 32 seats,” Danon tells the Kan public broadcaster.
The comments come as Deri is reportedly demanding the Finance Ministry portfolio and Smotrich is insisting on holding the Defense Ministry.
Deri admitted to tax offenses earlier this year — his second criminal conviction — and resigned from the Knesset as part of a plea deal. However, he is returning to the Israeli parliament with his party holding 11 seats, making it the second-largest party in the right-religious bloc after Likud (Religious Zionism’s 14 seats, while running as one slate, are made up of separate factions).
According to recent reports, Netanyahu is reluctant to hand the defense portfolio to Smotrich.
Smotrich was reportedly suspected of planning a terror attack on a major Tel Aviv highway to protest the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. He was arrested during protests against the withdrawal and was held by the Shin Bet security service for three weeks, maintaining his right to remain silent and refusing to cooperate with the investigation.