Smotrich gets finance ministry, authority over West Bank in coalition deal

RZP will also receive the Aliyah and Integration Ministry and a new ministry dubbed the National Tasks Ministry.

 Likud head and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is seen with RZP chief Bezalel Smotrich on December 1, 2022 (photo credit: LIKUD SPOKESPERSON)
Likud head and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is seen with RZP chief Bezalel Smotrich on December 1, 2022
(photo credit: LIKUD SPOKESPERSON)

Prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party reached a partial coalition agreement with the Religious Zionist Party on Thursday evening, following three weeks of intense negotiations, the factions confirmed.

As part of the agreement, announced in a joint statement, RZP chief Bezalel Smotrich will become finance minister in a rotation. RZP will also receive the Aliyah and Integration Ministry and a new ministry dubbed the National Tasks Ministry.

One of these will also serve as a minister in the Defense Ministry responsible for the settlements, which will act “in accordance and agreement with the prime minister,” the statement reads.

RZP will also receive a deputy ministry position, as well as the Knesset Law Committee, Religious Affairs Committee and the Reforms Committee.

The statement labeled the agreement a “document of jobs and fields of operation,” and that “beyond this document, the coalition agreements will include detailed guidelines, regulation of issues of Jewish identity, education, law, settlements and society, and include detailed budget agreements.”

 Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks next to leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with the opposition parties at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on June 28, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) Head of the Religious Zionist Party MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks next to leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting with the opposition parties at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, on June 28, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

He thanked Smotrich, adding that he was “convinced that they would work together in a fruitful partnership.”

Smotrich replied that “We are taking a historic step today to form a right-wing, national, Zionist government that will bring back governance and security, pass a historic reform of the judicial system, regulate and develop the settlements, strengthen Jewish identity in a religious-Zionist spirit, and proudly fly the flags of Zionism, aliyah and integration into society.”

Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir congratulated his colleagues on the deal.

“I call on the rest of our partners to quickly sign and establish an entirely right-wing government in order to put Israel back on track.”

The agreement was the third so far, after Ben-Gvir signed an agreement last Friday and Noam on Sunday.

The parties left to sign are Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Netanyahu’s mandate to form a government ends on December 11, but he may request a two-week extension to push through a number of laws connected to the coalition agreements.