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Netanyahu meets Smotrich for first time in week, amid spat over ministerial post

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

In this handout photo, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich (R), November 15, 2022. (Likud)
In this handout photo, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich (R), November 15, 2022. (Likud)

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu and Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich are currently meeting for the first time since Wednesday, according to Likud sources.

Coalition negotiations have been held up due to a dispute between the two over what cabinet post Smotrich will receive.

The Religious Zionism leader is insisting on either the defense or finance portfolios, two key ministries that Netanyahu prefers to keep with his Likud party or allocate to more senior political partners.

Likud sources also say that while there are still several final details to be hammered out in the developing coalition agreement, once the ministerial portfolio issue with Smotrich is solved, they expect negotiations on finalizing Israel’s 37th government to move quickly.

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