Photo Credit: Facebook screenshot
Finance Minister and Religious Zionism Party Chairman Bezalel Smotrich speaking at the Knesset on the 37th government’s first day, Dec. 29, 2022.

In his first speech in the Knesset as Finance Minister, RZP Chairman Bezalel Smotrich declared: “I have said many times – I will not live a single day in a country without an independent and strong judicial system. And so it will be.” Smotrich promised, “an independent court that will take care of the rights of the individual, and will be more involved in offering relief to the individual and less with determining the policy of the State of Israel.”

Smotrich noted that “since time immemorial, the people of Israel have known how to unite around wars, hardships, and disasters,” and said: “I wish to open my speech with a prayer to God that in the coming years we will learn to unite around the State of Israel, around the continued construction of this magnificent home, around this enormous miracle that is made up of our spectacular human mosaic, around the national home that was built with blood, sweat, and tears, tears of joy and, unfortunately, also tears of sadness, fulfilling the vision of the prophets of Israel.”


Smotrich notably included in his speech a verse (Numbers 23:24) that serves as a tagline for Ari Fuld H’yd who was murdered in Gush Etzion on September 16, 2018: “הן עם כלביא יקום וכארי יתנשא — Behold, a people that rises and leaps up like a lion.” It is part of the blessings the wizard Balaam bestowed on the Israelites after being hired to curse them.

“By the great grace of heavens, we rose from the crematoria and the exiles, we built like lions a strong and powerful country, a country whose job is to make sure that never again, never again will we be led like sheep to the slaughter, never will we bow our heads before those who seek to harm us. And now it’s our job to lead. Lead toward a reality of an even better state for each and every one of Israel’s citizens.”

On his plans for the finance ministry, possibly the most ungrateful job in Israeli politics, Smotrich said, “We will strive for a responsible and sometimes complicated policy of fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraint, an open market policy of removing barriers and tariffs, a policy that aims to increase the rate of participation in the jobs market for all the population groups, to increase production while not trampling any population segment, a policy that will see the middle class and be compassionate toward those who really need it, while easing the burden of the players who are the catalysts of the market and the Israeli economy. In the stormy sea of the global economy, with God’s help, we will be an island of stability where the startup nation will continue to shine and thrive.”

In this context, I highly recommend going back to my August 25 report, “Bezalel Smotrich Lays Out his Economic Agenda: Free Market, No More Subsidies or COLAs.”

Interestingly, Smotrich did reveal any specifics regarding his other ministerial appointment as an adjunct minister in the defense ministry, in charge of the civil administration in Judea and Samaria. He only stated cryptically: “At the same time, I am entering a position in the Ministry of Defense, an important position with responsibility for civilian life in Judea and Samaria, the cradle of our birthright.”

Whatever he does over at Finance, the world will be watching his actions in Area C, where the challenges of illegal construction, carried out by the Palestinian Authority and paid for by the international community, will surely raise the ire of Israel’s friends and foes alike.

So maybe he was right to keep mum on that one.


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