Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Bezalel Smotrich (R)
Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and Bezalel Smotrich (R)Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

The main sticking point in the coalition negotiations between the Likud party and Religious Zionism is responsibility for the Civil Administration and the creation of a policy for settlement and destruction, Israel Hayom reported.

According to the report, Religious Zionism has noted that the Civil Administration ignores illegal construction by Arabs while dealing harshly with the same actions by Jews. The party's chairman, MK Bezalel Smotrich, wishes his party to take responsibility for the Civil Administration, with the intention of "ending the takeover of Area C" and making it easier for Jews to build in the area.

Under the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria was divided into three areas. Area C is under Israeli military and civilian control. Area A refers to parts of the region controlled entirely by the Palestinian Authority (PA), whilst Area B refers to those parts under civilian PA control, but with Israel still responsible for security. While Arabs live and work in all three areas, Jews are only allowed to live in Area C.

Israel Hayom noted that while the Likud party agrees in principle with Smotrich, they have clarified that the issue is a sensitive one both with the US and with the European Union. Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, therefore, is concerned that Smotrich's policy in this area will create conflicts in the diplomatic sphere.

On Sunday night, Netanyahu and Smotrich held an overnight meeting, alongside members of their respective negotiating teams.

On Monday morning, following the meeting, Likud officials expressed optimism regarding the possibility of securing a coalition agreement with the Religious Zionism party this week.