Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and MK Bezalel Smotrich.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A rift in the Far-Right has been settled as the leaders of the Union of Right-Wing Parties, Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, settled their differences in a late night phone call, Monday night, after it appeared the union was on its way to a split.
Sources close to Peretz said he was upset that Smotrich had leaked a long list of controversial demands for entering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition without coordinating them with Peretz.
Peretz’s associates had even suggested that his Bayit Yehudi Party could enter Netanyahu’s coalition without the two MK’s of Smotrich’s National Union Party.
Likud sources had also said they could make due with Bayit Yehudi if Smotrich did not tone down his demands.
In an another threat to Netanyahu’s coalition, former coalition chairman David Bitan threatened to not take any role if he is not made a minister.
In an interview with Army Radio, Bitan said he was “disappointed with Netanyahu” and that the fact that he had to fight to receive a portfolio, “funny” after all he had done for the prime minister.
Negotiations between Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties were not supposed to begin until after Passover, but the URP already submitted its list of demands on Monday to the Likud’s negotiating team.
The list of demands also included four portfolios for URP co-chairmen Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich wants to be justice minister and Jerusalem affairs minister, and Peretz wants to be education minister and minister of Diaspora affairs.
The Justice and Education ministries are also being sought by ministers in Likud. No other party has expressed interest in the Diaspora Affairs portfolio.
The party wants Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce publicly ahead of the release of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan that Israel would not agree to any territorial concessions.
“We will topple the government the moment talk will begin about withdrawing from land,” Smotrich told Ma’ariv last week.
The URP is seeking funds for strengthening the settling of Judea and Samaria, and for increasing industry and employment in the region.
The demands also include expressing Israeli sovereignty over much of Judea and Samaria, canceling the civil administration that governs the territories, and the re-establishment of communities in the Gaza Strip.
The party wants the coalition to pass a bill that would enable the Knesset to overrule decisions of the Supreme Court, along with legislation that would grant MKs automatic immunity from prosecution.
The party would also support the passage of a Basic Law guaranteeing the right of yeshiva students to learn Torah.
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