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Smotrich urges ‘marathon talks’ to clinch coalition, amid jockeying over ministries

Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich speaks at faction meeting of his far-right party, ahead of the swearing-in of the new Knesset, on November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Religious Zionist leader Bezalel Smotrich speaks at faction meeting of his far-right party, ahead of the swearing-in of the new Knesset, on November 15, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich calls to expedite coalition talks in order to establish a right-wing, religious government as quickly as possible.

His words come against stalled negotiations and an ongoing disconnect between Smotrich and Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who are at loggerheads over the allotment of senior ministerial portfolios in coalition negotiations.

“All partners [in the right-wing camp] need to conduct swift, marathon talks in order to ensure a government is quickly established, God willing, and will implement right-wing policies which will bring about change,” says Smotrich.

Noting that over 500,000 voters supported Religious Zionism, he says this provided the party with the capacity to effect significant change, and vows: “What has been, is not what will be.”

The leader of the radical right-wing party says among those policies will be an effort to “thwart the attempts of the Palestinian Authority to take control of territory [in the West Bank] and establish a terror state,” as well as legalizing unauthorized settlements and allowing for greater settlement development in the territory.

Smotrich adds that “this time we will not let anyone, inside our [political] home or outside, to steal our voice, and we promise that those who voted right-wing will get a right-wing [government].”

The Religious Zionism leaders adds that he will “not allow the Histadrut labor federation or any other left-wing element to decide and dictate for us economic policy and appointments in the new government.”

Smotrich has demanded to be appointed either defense or finance minister, but Histadrut chairman Arnon Ben David reportedly opposes his appointment as treasurer.

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