David Bitan
David BitanNoam Moskowitz, Knesset spokesperson

MK David Bitan (Likud) wants to see the senior ministerial portfolios remain in the hands of the Likud, and does not hide his disappointment with the conduct of the coalition negotiations.

Speaking on Monday in an interview with Galey Israel radio, Bitan claimed, "All these negotiations are done through briefings and tweets. No one in Likud is aware of what is going on, Netanyahu is doing it alone. For the time being, there is no 'negotiation' here, only 'giving'. Finance and Defense should have belonged to the Likud in advance.''

Bitan revealed what was behind the dispute between Shas chairman Aryeh Deri and Religious Zionist Party chairman Bezalel Smotrich over the Defense and Finance portfolios: "Smotrich came and asked for the Finance Ministry, and they told Deri, ‘Now you ask for it so that we can pull a trick on Smotrich.’ Now Deri is receiving compensation so that he will 'give up' the Finance Ministry. And Smotrich receives compensation to get the Finance Ministry that he didn't deserve to begin with. If this is Netanyahu's way, then so be it, let him do what he wants, but in the meantime Likud is left with nothing."

In a separate interview with Reshet Bet radio, Bitan claimed, "There will be a government, only we don't know what it will look like. Since there is no alternative, we are giving away almost everything and getting nothing - the Likud is losing."

He also estimated that the Religious Zionist Party will make life miserable for the new coalition. "I know Smotrich, this will not end only in coalition negotiations. The government will have problems every week with all kinds of bills and demands from Knesset members and ministers."

Meanwhile, reports on Monday indicated that a breakthrough has been reached in the coalition negotiation meeting between Netanyahu and Smotrich.

Under the new compromise, Smotrich would waive his demands for the Defense and Religious Affairs portfolios and would be appointed Finance Minister in the new government.

Deri, who had been demanding the Finance portfolio, would receive the Interior Ministry, Religious Affairs Ministry, and the Negev and Galilee Ministry, and a member of the Shas party would receive a position in the Prime Minister's Office.

The Otzma Yehudit Party would receive the Agriculture Ministry, and MK Yitzhak Wasserlauf would be the most likely candidate to become Agriculture Minister.