Kan news airs recordings of Religious Zionism-Otzma Yehudit party chief Bezalel Smotrich saying Benjamin Netanyahu “desperately wanted” to ally with the Islamist Ra’am party after the 2021 election and says the former premier is “lying through his teeth.”
He also calls Netanyahu “trouble,” and says he may yet be found guilty in his criminal trial.
Netanyahu is widely reported to have made Ra’am generous offers to clinch its support for him forming a government, but Smotrich ruled out the matter. However, since the formation of the current government, Netanyahu and Likud have railed against its inclusion of Ra’am, claiming the coalition was leaning on the backing of “terror supporters” — though the party has repeatedly condemned terror.
“If I’d wanted to take two parliamentary seats from Bibi, I should have laid into him. He’s lying through his teeth. He didn’t want to go with Ra’am? He desperately wanted to. I’m the only one who stood in the way,” Smotrich is heard saying to unidentified listeners.
However, he says that since Netanyahu is denying it, “I’m toeing the line. I don’t lie when I’m interviewed [about it]. I say, I’m not concerned with the past, that it’s not important.”
He adds that “even if he was willing to give them a bit less” than the current coalition, “it doesn’t make a difference, the moment he agrees to form a government with them, in the end he’s dependent on them. At first, he’d have given them less, and later, he’d have given them everything, otherwise they’d have brought him down and we’d go to elections.”
But Smotrich says he is “going along with his narrative now because it serves what I believe is right for the people of Israel.”
Smotrich also says Netanyahu will leave the scene eventually.
“Netanyahu won’t stay forever,” he says. “Physics and biology will take their course. Eventually, he’ll be found guilty in court or I don’t know what. We need a little patience.”
“There’s no doubt that Netanyahu is trouble, alright? But now you have to choose between troubles.”
As for why he opposes Ra’am’s inclusion despite its stated to desire to set aside the Palestinian issue and focus on civil matters, Smotrich says he wants to help the Arab public, but does not want Arab parties to achieve things as this would “puff up the chests” of the Arab public that members of their own community had bettered their lives.
He says he wants any benefits for the Arab public to come from “us, the state, the Jews.”