MK Bezalel Smotrich, chairman of the Religious Zionist Party, was a guest on Tuesday at Arutz Sheva’s studio in Jerusalem and stressed that he would only be a partner in a full right-wing government.
Asked whether he believes that Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett does not want to form a right-wing government, Smotrich replied, "Bennett wants to form a government with the left. He says so. Religious Zionism under my leadership will not turn its back on the national camp. In a government like this I cannot promote any of my values."
"Ayelet [Shaked] said it would be a government with a right-wing majority. That is throwing dust in people’s eyes. A majority is a concept that is taken from the world of the Knesset. A government is about agreements. There are guidelines. Do you see Yair Lapid sitting in a government whose baselines include the Overrule Clause? State conversion?"
Let's say that both Meretz and Yesh Atid agree on all of this. Will you sit with them?
"Do you think the Israeli public is dumb? Yair Lapid will not agree to this. It is not by chance that Bennett wanted to legitimize a move to such a government. He said he is putting everything aside at the moment. It is impossible to promote right-wing values in such a government. I say there is no such thing. You deal with both the economy as well as with promoting all the values of the right. And in order to promote them you need a right-wing government and what can we do? The biggest party is the Likud. Netanyahu is the only one who knows how to form a right-wing government."
Netanyahu does not know how to give you the Overrule Clause, to promote settlement. And you are going with him?
"Netanyahu has always gone with the left. The way I am reading the map says he has no other option. When the right has 61 seats, he will have no other alternative because he will have no one else to sit with and then he will depend on us and we will have a lot of power."
You are a veteran parliamentarian, do you believe that Netanyahu will give Ben-Gvir the 61st vote?
"I believe Netanyahu wants to continue as Prime Minister and for that he needs 61. And that he has no other alternatives. Bennett has other options that may advance him on a personal level that are legitimate. But that means he must sit in government with the left."
Will you sit with Lapid in one constellation or another?
"I will not sit in any government that does not include all the parties in the national camp, I will not let religious Zionism turn its back and cut off the long-term alliance. In the end, the Israeli public makes a distinction between 'Israelis' and 'Jews'. This is our affiliation group as religious Zionism. This is the more traditional, national public. There is a healthy platform on which you can promote the things we believe in. And there is the second camp, Yair Lapid's left. I have no common denominator with them in terms of perceptions of what is good and right for the State of Israel. If religious Zionism, God forbid, detaches itself from its natural basis of affiliation and seeks other connections that will not last because your only interest is to replace Netanyahu, and the personal ambitions of party leaders is to be Prime Ministers themselves, that will not last even one day."
You will not join any coalition that does not include the Likud and the haredim?
"Unequivocally. Bibi is not the issue and neither are the haredi MKs. The issue is a million right-wing, traditional, peripheral voters. They are our natural partners in the correction of the State of Israel."
So will you only recommend Netanyahu to the President?
"Unequivocally, of course after we sign him to the guidelines of a right-wing government with all the parties from the national camp. Before the surplus agreement, I signed Netanyahu to an agreement not to sit with any other party."
Do you know what Bennett said yesterday about Netanyahu's commitment?
"I am not counting on Netanyahu's commitment. I am counting on the map before which I can read and understand that Netanyahu has no alternatives and will therefore go to a right-wing government, any other government will be a bad government which will cause terrible damage to the State of Israel. I am very disappointed by the sayings of Naftali, who is willing to go to a left-wing government just to move Netanyahu aside. He said yesterday that he will bring the Likud, but I do not know how one brings a party of 30 seats that will sit under a party of 10 seats."
Were you surprised to hear Netanyahu say yesterday that it is okay to vote for religious Zionism, is there an agreement between you?
"We do not have an agreement. He visited Judea and Samaria and in my opinion, it is good a thing, because I was bothered by the fact that he had put the right-wing agenda aside. The residents of Judea and Samaria know very well who to call when they don’t have electricity or a road. I am not worried. Netanyahu understands very well that without religious Zionism there is no right-wing government."