Yitzhak Wasserlauf
Yitzhak WasserlaufOlivier Fitoussi/Flash 90

Despite the swearing in of the Knesset, the coalition talks have not yet resulted in an agreement that would allow the establishment of a right-wing government. One of the questions that still need to be answered is will the chairman of the Religious Zionist party, Bezalel Smotrich, indeed receive the Defense Ministry?

MK Yitzhak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit) told Radio 103FM on Wednesday, "Smotrich deserves the position of Minister of Defense as well as other positions. The right wants change, and we need to do it. That's why we have demands."

Wasserlauf also added that "if the Americans are interested in the security of the people of Israel - they should be happy that Ben Gvir will be the Minister of Public Security."

Responding to reports that Ben Gvir will not be able to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, Wasserlauf said, "Itamar Ben Gvir ascends the Temple Mount and with God's help he will continue to ascend the Temple Mount. The fact that he has not gone up in the last two weeks - there is no headline here."

Coalition negotiations are at an impasse as Netanyahu continues to refuse to give the defense portfolio to Smotrich.

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

Despite the impasse, the Likud announced on Wednesday 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 Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu's attempt to break up the political alliance between Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich in order 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.