Deri said to walk out of coalition talks with Netanyahu, Smotrich

Shas chief Aryeh Deri walked out of coalition talks with Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich on Monday, Kan news reported.

Deri was said to demand that the interior and health ministries, which his party is set to lead in the next government, be exempt from oversight by the Finance Ministry’s budgetary department.

Smotrich, set to become finance minister, vehemently opposed the idea, the report said, saying that the budgetary department has itself vetoed the proposal.

Deri, in turn, said failure to exempt his ministries would be a violation of an agreement previously reached with Netanyahu.

The incident was the second time in a week that Deri has reportedly clashed with Netanyahu during negotiations.

Earlier Monday, Otzma Yehudit party chief Itamar Ben Gvir addressed reports that Likud was trying to walk back some of its coalition promises to the far-right leader.

Shas party leader Aryeh Deri, left, and Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich talk during the swearing-in ceremony of the 24th Knesset in Jerusalem, April 6, 2021. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL/File)

“In recent days, I hear wavering on agreements that were already signed and agreed upon,” Ben Gvir said at the outset of his party’s faction meeting.

Ben Gvir and Likud negotiators reportedly had a blow-up on Thursday evening, after a generous deal was announced between Likud and Religious Zionism.

Likud negotiators are said to have walked back some of the policy points agreed upon with Ben Gvir, including those relating to changing open-fire regulations and providing some immunity to security personnel for actions carried out as part of their duties.

Otzma Yehudit head MK Itamar Ben Gvir speaks during his party’s Knesset faction meeting. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

With Netanyahu slated to sign coalition deals with three far-right and two ultra-Orthodox parties, right-wing stalwart Likud will find itself the left-most faction in Israel’s most hardline government yet.

Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit became the first of five parties to sign a partial agreement with bloc leader Likud. Smotrich’s Religious Zionism and Deri’s Shas parties are still holding out as Netanyahu approaches his December 11 deadline to form a government (though he can ask for a two-week extension and is expected to do so).