Ben Gvir to get newly created role of national security minister in deal with Likud

Likud and Otzma Yehudit agreed early Friday on the positions the far-right party will fill in the future government, with Itamar Ben Gvir serving as the newly created national security minister (an expanded role of public security minister).

The parties have signed an addendum to the coalition agreement, though not yet the full agreement, which details the messages Otzma Yehudit will receive.

In addition to the Ministry of National Security, the party will also hold the reshuffled portfolio of the Development of the Negev, Galilee and Ministry of National Fortitude (English translation not yet official); portfolio of heritage, role of deputy minister in the Ministry of Economy; chairmanship of the Knesset Public Security Committee; and rotating chairmanship of the Special Committee of the Israel Citizens Fund (which oversees the state’s revenues from gas drilling).

The Ministry of the Negev and Galilee will be headed by Otzma Yehudit Nr. 2 Yitzhak Wasserlauf, while Amichai Eliyahu will take over the heritage ministry portfolio.

The Ministry of the Negev and Galilee will receive 2 billion. NIS annual budget and will be responsible for regulating new West Bank settlements.

MK Almog Cohen will be Deputy Minister of Economy, and former IDF General Zvika Fogel will chair the Public Security Committee. MK Limor Son Har-Melech will take the position of Otzma Yehudit for the gas royalties committee.

Otzma Yehudit Almog Cohen (L) and Yitzhak Wasserlauf in the Knesset, 2022. November 21 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The agreement also includes an agreement to establish a large-scale national guard and expand the mobilization of border police reserve forces.

Ben Gwiro’s ministry will control the West Bank unit of the Border Police, currently under the Ministry of Defence, while the Ministry of Public Security will contribute.

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The move means the leader of the far-right party will control the border police force involved in the police riots in the West Bank, as well as the evacuation of posts.

There will also be an “expanded southern law” that will allow the shooting of thieves caught stealing guns from military bases.

Last year, the military updated its rules of engagement to make it easier for soldiers to open fire on suspected weapons thieves and smugglers in an effort to curb crime. It was not immediately clear what the effect of the law change would be.

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir arrive for the swearing-in ceremony of the new Knesset at the parliament building in Jerusalem, 2022. November 15 (Photo by Abir Sultan/Pool via AP)

In a statement, Ben Gvir said the agreement was “a big step towards signing a full coalition agreement and creating a full right-wing government” and that he would cooperate with previous agreements with Likud, such as the formal settlement of the West Bank. Homesh yeshiva and Evyatar outpost.

Earlier this week, two former senior police officers publicly warned that the planned changes to the relationship between the police force and the minister of public security, the role Ben Gvir is now known to be calling for, could spell the end of Israel’s democracy.

The deal with Otzma Yehudit marked Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s slow but steady progress in building a coalition after this month’s election, as he neared full deals with Otzma Yehudit and the Haredi Shas party.

Protracted talks have dashed Netanyahu’s hopes of quickly forming a government after the Nov. 1 vote. the election gave the bloc he leads a majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Conversations were hampered by the spiraling and sometimes competing demands of his partners.

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According to Channel 12, the parties agreed to split the current Ministry of Periphery, Negev and Galilee Development because Shas insisted on holding the “periphery” portfolio, referring to the often poorer cities outside of Israel’s central population centers. – because it considers such areas as the main part of its voter base.

Meanwhile, Shas will get the Home Office as well as the health and welfare portfolios.

Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri 2022 November 16 leaving a meeting with Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu at a hotel in Jerusalem. (Arie Leib Abrams/Flash90)

But Deri’s suitability as a minister is now in serious doubt after the attorney general said his recent conviction could amount to moral turpitude, which would disqualify him from ministerial office for seven years. Deri received a 12-month suspended sentence last year but resigned from parliament before signing a plea deal to avoid a moral turpitude charge.

Shas and Likud are reportedly considering changing the law so that the leader of Shas, since 2000 until 2002 after serving 22 months in prison for bribery, he could return to the post of minister.

Meanwhile, Likud’s negotiations with Bezalel Smotrich’s religious Zionism remain deadlocked.

Smotrich has been demanding either the Defense Ministry or the Treasury, and Netanyahu appears to have agreed in recent days to give him the latter for at least the first two years of government. Despite the reported progress, talks with Smotrich continued to be mired in mutual accusations, with Religious Zionism saying Netanyahu had broken promises and Likud accusing the far-right party of making exaggerated demands in exchange for loyalty to the emerging government.

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In addition to his first two years at the Finance Ministry, Smotrich reportedly claimed the settlement affairs and immigrant absorption portfolios, as well as chairing four of the 11 coalition-controlled Knesset committees.

Citing sources involved in the negotiations, Haaretz reported that Smotrich also demanded control of the state’s Jewish conversion system.

Likud leader MK Benjamin Netanyahu (left) talks with Religious Zionist Party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich during the swearing-in ceremony of the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, 2022. November 15 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Likud is reported to have agreed to hand Smotrich control of the Civilian Administration, the part of the Defense Ministry that manages Area C in the West Bank, where all Israeli settlers and several thousand Palestinians live under Israeli civilian and military control.

But in a lengthy statement released Wednesday after reports of progress in talks, Religious Zionism accused Likud of constantly spreading “lies” to the press as part of coalition talks, saying Likud wanted to “tramp on, humiliate and marginalize” the party.

“Things have not been good” under Netanyahu for more than a decade, the party charged, saying it had “promised this time it would be different”, referring to its often radical list of demands on security, courts, settlements. and religious matters.

Earlier on Wednesday, Likud MK Yariv Levin, the party’s head of coalition negotiations, said in private conversations that Smotrich’s demands to hand him over some ministries, such as the civil administration, would amount to a “government within a government.” asks as a “cheat”.

Meanwhile, the second Haredi party in the future coalition, United Toros Judaism, is expected to get the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Social Equality, adding the Labor Department of the Ministry of Finance.

UTJ’s Moshe Gafni was named chairman of the Knesset’s interim finance committee on Monday, and the party also wants control of the labor, health and interior and environment committees.

But the Haredi party also complained that it felt left out of the negotiations.

Coalition talks between the parties dragged on after Netanyahu was given a 28-day mandate to form a government earlier this month amid wrangling over appointments and legislative priorities. The mandate ends on December 11, but can be extended by two weeks.

Carrie Keller-Lynn and Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.


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