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Netanyahu ally said to accuse Smotrich of aiming to ‘take over half the government’

Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and faction chair Yariv Levin (R) lead their party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Likud party head Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and faction chair Yariv Levin (R) lead their party's faction meeting at the Knesset, May 23, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Likud MK Yariv Levin, a close associate of prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu who is managing the coalition talks with allied ultra-Orthodox and far-right parties, reportedly goes on a tirade against Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich over his “outlandish” demands.

The Walla news site quotes comments allegedly made by Levin today in private talks, without naming any source.

Levin apparently claims Smotrich aims to “form a government within a government” and that his seven-member party wants to dismantle government ministries and “take over half the government.”

Levin claims Smotrich’s demands include control of Education Ministry bodies responsible for religious schools, of the Jewish conversion system currently controlled by the Prime Minister’s Office, and of Foreign Ministry bodies tasked with countering movements calling for boycotts of Israel. He says Smotrich also demanded control of four of the Knesset’s 11 coalition-dominated committees.

Religious Zionism party head Bezalel Smotrich attends a discussion in the Knesset on November 21, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

These are “outlandish demands,” Levin reportedly says, adding: “None of this is ideological.”

Contacted by The Times of Israel, Levin’s office doesn’t deny that the remarks were made, but hints they weren’t intended as an attack on Smotrich, declining to comment further.

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