Reports: Coalition talks may last another week; Smotrich now unlikely to get Defense

Kan news indicates negotiation difficulties may leave interim government in place for a few more days; Shas leader said offered expanded interior portfolio

Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Religious Zionist party leader Bezalel Smotrich arrives for coalition talks at a hotel in Jerusalem on November 9, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government may take longer than initially expected and may not bear fruit this week, according to a Saturday report.

Netanyahu has not yet been officially tasked with forming a government by President Isaac Herzog, and is expected to get the mandate to do so on Sunday. Netanyahu is believed to be aiming to quickly form a new coalition with his right-wing, religious bloc within days in order to swear it in this coming week.

However, Kan news reported Saturday that difficulties in the negotiations may lead to a delay, with the new government sworn in only a week later.

According to Kan, the Religious Zionism party has been angered by Likud’s handling of negotiations, saying the Netanyahu’s party is dragging its feet with regard to signing agreements.

Religious Zionism chief Bezalel Smotrich has been seen as gunning for either the defense or finance portfolios, with Netanyahu reportedly reluctant to give him either one. Recent days saw growing reports that Smotrich could receive the defense post, leading to some intense pushback from former top defense officials.

Channel 12 and Ynet reported Saturday that Netanyahu was now leaning toward keeping defense within his own Likud party, and giving Smotrich the Treasury.

Kan said that Religious Zionism has demanded a detailed list of agreements which has caused complications.

The network said communications between the sides were severed over the weekend, but Netanyahu continued to meet with far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of Otzma Yehudit, which ran on a joint list with Religious Zionism.

Likud chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for coalition talks in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022, after his bloc won a majority in the November 1 elections. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Shas leader Aryeh Deri, who has reportedly been considered for the Finance Ministry, will now likely get the Interior Ministry, which he has led in the past, Channel 12 and Ynet said. Deri’s Shas party would also receive the Religious Affairs Ministry.

The reports said Deri’s authority as interior minister would be expanded to “make up” for him not receiving the Finance Ministry. The details of such extra authority were not made clear.

Shas party head Aryeh Deri celebrates with supporters as the results of the Israeli elections are announced, in Jerusalem. November 1, 2022 (Yossi Zamir/Flash90 )

An unconfirmed Ynet report said that the foreign affairs and justice portfolios, as well as the role of Knesset speaker, would also remain with Likud.

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