Smotrich: Defense Ministry portfolio not out of the question for me

Smotrich's comments came after number two on his list, Otzma Yehudit leader Mk Itamar Ben-Gvir, has said in recent weeks that he will demand the Public Security portfolio.

 Elected chairman of the Religious Zionism party MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks to the press after the results were announced in the Religious Zionism primaries, in Ramat Gan, August 23, 2022. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)
Elected chairman of the Religious Zionism party MK Bezalel Smotrich speaks to the press after the results were announced in the Religious Zionism primaries, in Ramat Gan, August 23, 2022.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

The far-right Religious Zionism Party (RZP) will not rule out demanding the Defense Ministry portfolio if it is part of the upcoming coalition, party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich said on Channel 12's Meet the Press on Saturday evening.

If his party wins 15 or 16 seats, it will have the "legitimacy to receive important [ministerial] portfolios. Defense, Finance, Transportation is also an excellent portfolio, as is the Justice portfolio," Smotrich said.

Smotrich stressed that his party needs to continue to grow in order to ensure that the next government will be right-wing, and to implement the party's policies.

"There is no doubt that we want to be large and significant, mainly because I understand that in a democracy my legitimacy to bang on the table and to demand all the things that were not done in the past and need to be done better, are a function of how big we are," he said.

Smotrich's comments came after number two on his list, Otzma Yehudit leader Mk Itamar Ben-Gvir, has said in recent weeks that he will demand the Public Security portfolio.

 MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit political party surrouned visits in Beit Orot, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of At-Tur, October 13, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

These aspirations raised a few eyebrows, since Ben-Gvir did not serve in the IDF or any other security organization, and Smotrich's security experience is his shortened IDF service of 16 months.

"Smotrich wants to be Bibi's Defense Minister," Yesh Atid wrote on Twitter. "Ben Gvir wants to be Bibi's Public Security Minister. Bibi wants to escape his trial – what do you think he will do?

"We cannot allow this craziness to win. Only a large and strong Yesh Atid will prevent the systemic madness that Ben Gvir, Smotrich and Bibi want to land on us," the party wrote.

Habayit Hayehudi party led by Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked said in a statement: “Bezalel Smotrich, who did not serve a full IDF service in order to begin his law studies, dares talk about demanding the defense portfolio.”

"This is an expression of megalomania. Smotrich should first explain to his voters why he did not serve a full IDF service while every teen upon reaching age 18 risks his life so that we can live in the State of Israel in safety.

"In what world did Smotrich become the face of the sector for whom service in the IDF is an exalted value?" the party concluded.