Israel's Netanyahu reaches coalition deal with far-right Religious Zionism party

Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu during the swearing-in ceremony for the new Israeli parliament, in Jerusalem, on Nov 15, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu reached a coalition deal with the far-right Religious Zionism party, bringing him closer to securing a new government after an election last month, Netanyahu’s Likud party said on Thursday.

Religious Zionism will be given, among other portfolios, control of the Finance Ministry as part of a rotation, Likud said, though it did not provide details on how the rotation would work.

Israeli Army Radio reported that Bezalel Smotrich, who heads Religious Zionism, would serve as finance minister at the outset and will then be replaced.

His party, which opposes Palestinian statehood and supports Israeli settlements, will also be given authority over Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, though it will be in coordination with Mr Netanyahu, the Likud statement said. REUTERS

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