Smotrich says PM promised him education, justice portfolios; Likud denies it
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Smotrich says PM promised him education, justice portfolios; Likud denies it

Right-wing MK tells closed meeting of party activists he made ‘clear agreements’ with Netanyahu, whose party calls the claims a ‘complete fabrication’

National Union MK Bezalel Smotrich, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 27, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
National Union MK Bezalel Smotrich, at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem on March 27, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Bezalel Smotrich, the co-leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties (URWP), said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised his faction the Education and Justice ministries if Netanyahu’s Likud party leads the next government.

Smotrich made the comments at a closed meeting of party activists, according to a Monday night report on Channel 12 news, which said it had obtained a recording of the meeting.

“We had very clear agreements with Netanyahu, two senior portfolios. It was clear to everyone that the Education and Justice ministries were meant to stay in our hands,” Smotrich said.

Demanding the posts was not excessive, he said, since they were currently held by MKs Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, who split from the Jewish Home faction to form the New Right party.

Jewish Home, headed by Rafi Peretz, later merged with Smotrich’s National Union and the extremist Otzma Yehudit to form the URWP.

“The portfolios that were ours remain ours. That’s the agreement. I suggest you don’t get alarmed by Netanyahu’s denials,” Smotrich said.

Likud flatly denied the report.

“This is a complete fabrication. The Education Ministry will remain with Likud,” the party said.

Smotrich’s office claimed the leak was the work of a left-wing activist who was planted at the meeting in order to damage right-wing parties ahead of elections, the report said.

Smotrich has said he plans to advance immunity legislation that would shield Netanyahu from prosecution in three criminal cases for which the prime minister faces indictment pending a hearing.

Last month, Smotrich said he would combat the “indoctrination” of liberal democracy in Israeli schools if appointed the next education minister.

He also said he would not invest in educationally impoverished areas, since “there will always be gaps” and “I’m not a communist.”

After the election, Shaked wants to continue serving as justice minister, while Bennett, currently the education minister, wants to head the Defense Ministry.

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