Religious Zionism Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich has agreed to become Israel’s next finance minister, according to unconfirmed reports, walking back his demand for control of the defense ministry and seemingly paving the way for Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to finalize the make-up of a governing coalition.

Netanyahu reportedly had told Smotrich that he would not be given the defense portfolio due to his lack of experience and objections from the Biden administration.

The Religious Zionism Party will nevertheless have authority over policies in Judea and Samaria as they relate to civil administration and the enforcement of laws in mainly uninhabited areas, according to the report.

Netanyahu is now most likely to appoint Likud Party lawmaker and former major general Yoav Gallant as defense minister, while Shas leader Aryeh Deri will, subject to his legal standing, head the Interior Ministry.

Channel 12 reported that Oztma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir will be named public security minister, which would give him control over the police.

The report did not say who would become foreign minister.

Netanyahu has until Dec. 6, with the possibility of a 14-day extension, to finalize coalition deals with his prospective partners.


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