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Bezalel Smotrich

(1980 - )

Bezalel Yoel Smotrich (Hebrew: בצלאל יואל סמוטריץ‎, was born on February 27, 1980, in Haspin, in the Golan Heights, and grew up in the Beit El settlement in the West Bank. His father was an Orthodox rabbi, and Smotrich received a religious education, attending Mercaz HaRav Kook, Yashlatz, and Yeshivat Kedumim.

During his service in the Israel Defense Forces, he served in the Operations Division of the General Staff.

He earned a BA in law from Ono Academic College. He also holds an LLB and is a licensed attorney. He also studied public and international law for an LLM at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 2013, Smotrich was appointed the Bar Association’s Official Comptroller of Detention Centers, and in 2014, he was appointed public representative at the Journalism Council assembly.

Smotrich was among the founders of the Regavim movement – a nongovernmental organization promoting Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank – and served as its director. He also ran the yeshiva in Kedumim. He is one of the founders and managers of the Association of Zionist post-High School Yeshivas and served as a member of the board. He was a board member of the Komemiyut Movement, a board member of the Netanya Education Group, and a board member of Bnei Hayil Yeshiva in Kedumim for children with ADHD.

He was arrested during protests against the disengagement plan in 2005 and was held in jail for three weeks but not charged. Smotrich opposes gay marriage and is an advocate for “family values.” In 2006, he helped organize the “Beast Parade” as part of protests against a gay pride parade in Jerusalem, although he later said he regretted the incident.

Smotrich joined the Tkuma Party, which ran as part of the Jewish Home list for the 2013 elections. He ran again on the same list in the 2015 elections, won a seat in the Knesset, and was appointed Deputy Speaker. He was also a member of the Finance Committee, the Internal Affairs and Environment Committee, the State Control Committee, and an alternate member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

He also chairs the Lobby for Strengthening and Development of the Galilee, the Lobby for Strengthening Governability, the Lobby for Encouraging Mission Oriented Communities, the Lobby for Applying Sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, the Lobby for Eretz Israel, the Lobby for Encouraging Population Growth in the Jewish Nation, and the Lobby for Encouraging Task-Oriented Communities and Groups, as well as other lobbies.

In 2018, he was elected leader of the National Union Party and was given the number two slot for the 2019 election behind Rafi Peretz.

Smotrich opposes the creation of a Palestinian state and believes they should be given three options: to leave, accept rule by a Jewish state, or fight and be defeated. He favors annexing the disputed territories and legalizing outposts built on Palestinian-owned land that were not approved by the government. Smotrich has also declared himself a “proud homophobe” and organized the “Beast Parade,” an anti-LGBTQ march in Jerusalem to protest the city’s annual Pride parade.  In 2016,  he called for the segregation of Arab and Jewish mothers in Israeli hospitals. “It’s only natural that my wife would not want to lie next to someone who just gave birth to a baby that might murder her baby in another 20 years,” he said.

Before the 2022 election, Benjamin Netanyahu brokered a deal for Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism Party to run together with Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit to assure they would win seats in the Knesset. Individually, they were less likely to succeed and would deprive Netanyahu of the votes he needs if he hopes to be prime minister. Smotrich is first on the joint list, and Ben Gvir second.

The party did better than expected, winning nearly 11% of the vote and 14 seats, making it the third-largest party in the 25th Knesset. The likelihood that the party will be part of a governing coalition under Netanyahu has alarmed many Israelis, Jews abroad, and international leaders.

Smotrich was appointed Minister of Finance and also a Minister in the Ministry of Defense.

Because of his extremist views, Biden administration officials have been unwilling to meet with Smotrich.

Smotrich is married to Revital, with whom he has five children. The family lives in the Kedumim settlement in the West Bank.

Source: “Bezalel Smotrich,” Wikipedia;
The Knesset.
“Netanyahu brokers deal for far-right’s Smotrich, Ben Gvir to join forces in election,” Times of Israel, (August 26, 2022).
Barak Ravid, “U.S. unlikely to work with Jewish supremacist expected to be made Israeli minister,” Axios, (November 2, 2022).
“Israel Election: Meet the Extremist Lawmakers About to Join the Government,” Haaretz, (

Photo: איתן פולד. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.