Was Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri's announcement that he wishes to be granted the Finance Ministry portfolio in the next government meant to push Smotrich into a corner? An hour before Deri's announcement Sunday morning, Shas negotiator Yehuda Avidan claimed that there's only a 50% chance that his party chairman will take the finance portfolio.
Avidan discussed the differences between Smotrich and Deri regarding the economy: "Let's put it this way: Smotrich's and Deri's economic outlooks are not the same. Smotrich's attitude towards the economically challenged is not the same as Deri's. I believe that by tomorrow morning Deri will decide. On Friday, I would have said that there was an 85% chance, today I think it's closer to 50%."
Later he said that Deri "is under a lot of pressure to take the defense portfolio, if he looks in that direction, Netanyahu will lunge to give it to him. Senior figures in the Defense Ministry also want him to take the office. The responsibility which he shows and the consensus in the Defense community about him is significant.
Following the decision of Shas chairman Aryeh Deri to ask for the Finance Ministry portfolio as a condition for entering the next government, sources within Religious Zionism are insisting that their leader, MK Bezalel Smotrich, must be granted the position of Defense Minister.
"Religious Zionism will demand the Defense, Education, and Religious Affairs portfolios, as well as detailed coalition agreements including budget summaries," they said.
"Our intent is to restore a sense of personal security to Israeli citizens," they added. "We want to fix the legal system, regulate the settlements of Judea and Samaria in law, and strengthen the Jewish identity of the state."