Deri demands Finance Ministry; Smotrich insisting on defense portfolio

Shas leader Aryeh Deri has demanded the Finance Ministry in the expected upcoming government led by Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu, as Religious Zionism insisted that party leader Bezalel Smotrich become defense minister.

Deri admitted to tax offenses earlier this year — his second criminal conviction — and resigned from the Knesset as part of a plea deal. However, he is returning to the Israeli parliament with his party holding 11 seats, making it the second-largest party in the right-religious bloc after Likud (Religious Zionism’s 14 seats, while running as one slate, are made up of separate factions).

Deri held consultations

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