Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon is leaving politics, will not form a new
party and continues to support the Likud, he said on Saturday night.
October 14, I announced that I am taking a break from political life and will
not run for the 19th Knesset, and I am sticking to that decision,” he said. “The
Likud is my home, for both diplomatic and social issues.
“It is not a
coincidence that you did not hear me talking about a new party last
The reason is that there is no new party,” Kahlon explained.
“People asked me, and there were polls that, contrary to reports, I did not
commission. There were pressures. I listened to everyone, but I never changed my
The communications minister said he would continue to help the
Likud, under Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s leadership, to win the
election, and would be part of a government committee that would work to lower
the cost of living and change the system of government.
Kahlon plans to
continue to promote a social agenda outside of the government and the
He concluded his message by calling for Israelis to vote for the
Likud on January 22.
Though his message indicated he will continue to
help the Likud, Kahlon has yet to decide what his next move will be.
of his options is to attend Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management
Program, as he has planned since announcing he was dropping out of the Likud
primary race two weeks ago.
Another option Kahlon has is to join the
“Likud Beytenu” candidates list.
Although it is too late for him to run
in the November 25 Likud primary, Kahlon could be put in one of the spots
reserved for Yisrael Beytenu members, or he could be appointed as a minister,
without becoming an MK in the next Knesset.
On Thursday night, following
reports that Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman and Natan Eshel, a close
associate and former chief of staff of Netanyahu, met with Kahlon, neither man
would confirm or deny the meetings or comment on what they might have offered
the communications minister if he would stay in the Likud.
associates and Likud officials pressured the minister in opposite directions
throughout last week.
The minister’s allies worked to convince him to
form a party, pointing to a poll from Tuesday that showed him getting 20 seats
in the next Knesset. The poll, however, was an “omnibus,” which means a single
question in an unrelated survey. In addition, poll questions referring to a
specific candidate are usually flattering to that person.
Likud MKs called Kahlon and made statements to the media asking him to stay in
the party where he began his political career.
In a press conference in
Paris on Wednesday, Netanyahu said he believed Kahlon would stay in Likud, and
the next day, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called for Kahlon to “come home” to
the party, which is “part of [his] DNA.”
On Saturday, Likud primary
candidate and economist Shlomo Maoz took it upon himself to visit Kahlon’s
mother in the working- class Hadera neighborhood of Givat Olga, and to ask her
to convince her son to remain in the party.
Part of Kahlon’s electoral
appeal is his success in working his way up from an underprivileged background,
eventually entering politics and reaching a ministerial position.
Saturday evening, Kahlon had already told associates that he would not form a
party. “I never meant to harm the Likud,” the minister told them.
parties saw Kahlon’s decision as an opportunity to attack the Likud’s social
“Now, as we see again and again, there is only one social
force that is reliable and strong and cares about the public – the Labor Party,”
its chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich said. “Spins come and go, but the public is not
stupid and knows who will really form a government that cares about its citizens who are poor or in the
middle class, and not just the wealthy.”
According to Yacimovich, 8
percent of Likud voters and 5% of Yisrael Beytenu supporters have moved to
Labor. She called for anyone who is “sick of Liberman and Netanyahu’s
insensitivity to join Labor and be part of real social change.”
that “Kahlon’s decision not to form a party to represent the poor and Sephardi
people does not change the fact that in the coming election, whoever is looking
for a party that cares about the weak, Jewish tradition and the State of
Israel’s Jewish character has only one place to turn – the strong, united Shas.”