Israel's next far-right finance minister Smotrich wants Jewish scripture to dictate economic policy

Israel's next far-right finance minister Smotrich wants Jewish scripture to dictate economic policy
Israel's next far-right finance minister is expected to implement Jewish law.
2 min read
08 December, 2022
Bezalel Smotrich has been tapped by Benjamin Netanyahu to become Israel's finance minister [ GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images]

Israel's presumed next finance minister has said his economic strategy will be infused with religious beliefs laid out in the Torah, arguing it will help the country to prosper.

Bezalel Smotrich, head of the far-right Religious Zionism party, said that as finance minister he will delve deep into the inner workings of the economy, adding that the Torah teaches that obeying God brings prosperity.

Smotrich was tapped by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to serve as finance minister for two years. He will then be replaced by Aryeh Deri, who heads an ultra-Orthodox party.

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Netanyahu on Thursday secured a parliamentary majority following a 1 November election win, but has still to finalize the coalition agreements. Until he does, a caretaker government remains in office.

Smotrich is more known for his hardline politics than his economic views, which, according to his party's platform, are fiscally conservative.

He spoke about his approach in an interview with an ultra-Orthodox magazine, Mishpacha. Excerpts of the interview were broadcast by Israel's Channel 12.

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"They tried many economic theories, right? They tried capitalism, they tried socialism. There is one thing they didn't try: 'if you obey'," Smotrich said, referring to Jewish scripture that calls on people to follow God's will.

Smotrich said those of faith, himself included, believe that, "the more Israel promotes more Torah, more Judaism, more of the commandment to settle the land, more kindness and solidarity, then the Lord will grant us great abundance."

A spokesman for Smotrich confirmed the comments.

Smotrich is known for his extremist views on Palestinians. The 42-year-old was born in a Jewish settlement in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights but grew up in Bet El near Ramallah. 

In 2006, he founded the pro-settler Regavim organisation, a notorious body among Palestinians that tracks construction in area C of the occupied West Bank. 

Smotrich is one of several far-right figures likely to take posts in Netanyahu's cabint, which will also include hardline settler activist Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Ben Gvir, who has been described as a "disciple" of extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane, is expected to be given the position of national security minister.