Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel SmotrichIsrael National News

MK Bezalel Smotrich predicts that it is the religious Zionist public that will decide the outcome of the November 1st elections and the identity of the coalition government that will be formed following them.

"If there are large parts of the religious Zionist sector that vote for the other side - for Gantz, Sa'ar, and Shaked - there will not be 61 seats for the right-wing bloc. If we convince them to vote for us - there will be a good Jewish, nationalist and Zionist government in Israel," says Smotrich in an interview in the Israel National News studio in Jerusalem.

According to him, it would be disastrous if his party were to get only 12 seats as this could lead to Yair Lapid heading a left-wing government with the Joint List. “We have to create a list that is diverse and broad, a list for which a maximum number of individuals will feel comfortable voting, and to increase the right-wing bloc. We need to see how to bring in two or three more mandates that are currently not voting with us and find a way to build a list that they can 'swallow'. They may not be happy to vote for us, but if they understand the importance of this moment, that there is no middle ground between a nationalist right-wing government and a left-wing government, that may tip the scales. The left, which has become a minority in Israeli society, cannot form a government without Ra'am and the Joint List."

Smotrich refused to answer questions about the status of the discussions between him and the chairman of Otzma Yehudit, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, generally regarded as the most extreme right-wing MK in the Knesset. "I do not give updates in the media. It is a grave error to conduct negotiations in the media. They need to be behind a closed door. You need to conduct the talks in a friendly, responsible and prudent manner in order to produce the result that will best maximize the bloc's electorate. We need to continue together and I say to the public: let us manage it quietly in private."

Smotrich admits that he failed to unite all sections of the public into one party. "Unity would have been achieved if I had succeeded in creating a single party in which everyone participates in its primaries. The preservation of parties and sub-parties is not true unity. We run together out of a sense of national responsibility. In all the previous rounds, some threw away tens of thousands of votes and we paid a heavy price for that. I'm looking for a way to bring in members of the public who did not feel they could be at home with us and show them that our party can be home for them as well."

The Chairman of the Religious Zionist Party is not worried about Netanyahu forming a government without him. "I think Netanyahu will have to form a government with us because otherwise, he will not have 61 mandates. There is no doubt that a party with 6-7 mandates and that is labeled as extreme is easier to leave out than a party with 10-12 mandates. I am reassured by Netanyahu, our partners in the haredi parties, and my friends in Likud that they will not let Netanyahu leave us out."

In his opinion, the goal after the elections should be the establishment of a completely right-wing government. "For years we were in power and we didn't really rule. We didn't fix what needed fixing and the public expects a real right-wing government that will implement the values ​​of the Nationalist Camp in all areas of life."

Contrary to the outgoing coalition, Smotrich rules out the inclusion of Ra’am in the coalition even if stable a right-wing majority is achieved. "I do not cooperate with those who identify with my enemies and whose goals are completely different from my goals. The Arab parties aim to destroy the State of Israel. The Joint List openly says so while Ra’am is more circumspect. However, we do have a responsibility to the Arab population in Israel and we will continue to take care of their needs."

Smotrich does not spare criticism from the Zionist Spirit Party Chair, Ayelet Shaked. "I respect people who think differently from me, like in Meretz. I can't respect people whose words are empty, who turn their backs on values, partners, promises, voters, and their own claims. After all, Ayelet Shaked says that she doesn't want a completely right-wing government, but a broad government. That means giving up all the right-wing values ​​we want to promote and that she claims to represent. It's not right-wing and it's not reliable and it won't get her past the electoral threshold."