Netanyahu denies rejecting Smotrich for Diaspora portfolio

In preparation for becoming education minister, Peretz spoke at an event on Monday night saluting teachers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conference Monday 27.05.2019 (photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to do all he can to build a coalition in a press conference Monday 27.05.2019
(photo credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON / FLASH 90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied a report on Monday that he refused to give Union of Right-wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich the Diaspora Affairs portfolio because he did not want to inflame tensions with Diaspora Jewry.
According to the report, Netanyahu met at length with Smotrich on Monday, in an effort to close a deal with him entering the cabinet along with URP leader Rafi Peretz. As part of the deal, Peretz would become education minister.

Smotrich would be given the Transportation portfolio in place of new Foreign Minister Israel Katz, but he also asked for a second ministry to make up for him not being given the Justice portfolio.
The report said that after Netanyahu rejected the Diaspora Affairs portfolio for Smotrich, he promised to give him Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan’s ministry that fights against BDS efforts. That appointment would be pending Erdan’s decision on whether to accept Netanyahu’s offer to become ambassador to the United Nations.
Netanyahu’s office also denied a KAN News report that his former chief of staff, Natan Eshel, told Smotrich he cannot have the Justice portfolio because “Netanyahu will not put his legal fate in your hands.” The prime minister’s spokesman called the report baseless, and said such words were not said.
In preparation for becoming education minister, Peretz spoke at an event on Monday night saluting teachers. He said the post was his dream and “not a launching pad to the next station.” The statement was seen as criticism of former education minister Naftali Bennett.