Israel's next finance minister brings religion to the front of economic strategy

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's incoming finance minister said his economic strategy will be infused with religious beliefs laid out in the Torah, saying it will help the country 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, but, taking a step back, the Torah - the first five books of the Hebrew Bible - tells 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.

Netanyahu on Thursday secured a parliamentary majority following a Nov. 1 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.