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US envoy said to warn Netanyahu against giving Smotrich defense portfolio

File: US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US embassy in Israel)
File: US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides (L) and opposition chairman Benjamin Netanyahu meet in the Knesset on December 9, 2021. (US embassy in Israel)

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides reportedly warned Likud chair Benjamin Netanyahu not to make Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich the next defense minister.

According to a Channel 12 TV report, Nides met with Netanyahu yesterday — along with former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — and asked him, without naming Smotrich, to select a candidate for the sensitive position “in a way that will take into account the intimate relationship between Israel and the US.”

Smotrich has asked for either the post of finance minister — which Shas chief Aryeh Deri is demanding — or defense minister — which Netanyahu reportedly told him he cannot have.

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