Natan Eshal
Natan EshalFlash 90

Close Netanyahu associate Natan Eshel recently told MK Betzalel Smotrich that there is no chance he will receive the justice portfolio, according to reports.

"The key to the legal fate of Netanyahu and his family is in the hands of the next justice minister, there is no chance that it will be with him," Eshel was quoted by Kann News.

The Likud issued a denial: "The Kann report about words allegedly said to Smotrich about the justice portfolio is incorrect and baseless. It never happened."

Last week, despite Jewish Home demands for the Justice Ministry, Likud MK Amir Ohana was appointed Justice Minister, leading to a difficult exchange between the Jewish Home and National Union heads. Jewish Home Party head Rabbi Rafi Peretz ultimately retracting the announcement by his party director excoriating National Union Chairman Smotrich.

"In recent months Betzalel and I have been walking shoulder to shoulder despite attempts to split the unity of the camp. I disassociate myself from all announcements that were issued last night. We'll continue to be partners and enter the government together, as we've done all along," said Rabbi Peretz.

MK Smotritich responded: "Thank you, Rabbi Rafi, no one, but no one, will be able to divide us and to punch a hole in the religious Zionist ship. Unity is more important than anything else. Whoever tries to do this must find himself outside today! Otherwise, it won't stop. It's our responsibility and we owe it to the public and the people of Israel."

In the same statement, Rabbi Peretz attacked Smotrich and called on him to support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to appoint Amir Ohana as Justice Minister instead of Chairman Smotrich.

Sources close to Peretz said that "the first choice is that of the Prime Minister, and he explicitly offered Peretz the education portfolio because he sees Peretz as the leader of religious Zionism.

"The Prime Minister has full confidence in the Jewish Home Chairman to guard the education portfolio and the members of the cabinet, as the replacement of Naftali Bennett in the leadership of religious Zionism.

"It is unclear why Smotrich, with whom we stood shoulder to shoulder throughout the negotiations, chooses to attack the Prime Minister instead of drawing conclusions.

"The Prime Minister determined that religious Zionism will continue to hold the education portfolio and cabinet membership. That was the mission and the mission was completed," Peretz's associates added.