Netanyahu and Smotrich
Netanyahu and Smotrichspokesperson

Channel 12 News correspondent Amit Segal published quotes from Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's contentious meeting with Religious Zionism party chairman Bezalel Smotrich yesterday.

Coalition negotiations are at an impasse as Netanyahu continues to refuse to give the defense portfolio to Religious Zionism party chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich.

Smotrich has demanded either the finance portfolio or the defense portfolio. However, Deri has laid claim to the finance portfolio and Netanyahu has been reluctant to upset the Biden Administration by making the right-wing Smotrich Defense Minister.

Netanyahu told Smotrich at their meeting yesterday: "Don't forget that thanks to me you united with Ben-Gvir and you have 14 seats."

Smotritz told Netanyahu: "Don't forget that [Yamina MK Idit] Silman left the coalition thanks to me, followed by [Nir] Orbach, and thanks to my opposition the partnership with Ra'am became illegitimate."

The Likud announced this evening that significant progress had been made in the talks between the Likud and Otzma Yehudit parties, but it seems that this may be part of Netanyahu's attempt to break up the political alliance between Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich to strengthen his negotiating position against Smotrich.

Despite the Likud's announcement about progress in the talks, Ben-Gvir does not intend to sign a coalition agreement without Smotrich, as he also made clear to the Likud representatives.

Netanyahu met with Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem Wednesday.

In their meeting today, Deri and Netanyahu tried to find a creative solution to the dispute. The possibility of "compensating" Deri by giving him an expanded internal portfolio is being examined, but for now the Shas chairman insists on receiving the Finance Ministry.

After his meeting with Deri, which lasted just 20 minutes, Netanyahu said: "Just a little patience, and with G-d's help we will establish a right-wing government."

Earlier today, a meeting between Netanyahu and Smotrich was cancelled. A meeting between Likud and Religious Zionism party representatives was also cancelled.