PM blasted for breaking promise to appoint Kahlon

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
June 4, 2013 22:13

Netanyahu faces criticism for announcing he will not appoint Moshe Kahlon chairman of Israel Lands Authority.

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PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon at press conference, January 20, 2013.

Netanyahu and Kahlon 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced criticism on Tuesday for announcing that he would not keep his promise to appoint popular former communications minister Moshe Kahlon as chairman of the Israel Lands Authority.

Netanyahu made the promise two days before the national elections, in a press conference that was not shown on television because the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, ruled that it would be illegal election propaganda.

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But Netanyahu told Kahlon on Tuesday that political realities made the appointment impossible.

“The results of the election do not allow us to implement all the plans we had,” Netanyahu told the former minister. “But to this day I believe that the only way to significantly lower housing prices for all Israeli citizens is to move the Lands Authority to the Prime Minister’s Office and appoint Kahlon to chair it.”

Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel and the head of his Bayit Yehudi party, Naftali Bennett, vetoed moving the authority from Ariel’s office when the government was formed in March. But Netanyahu waited until Kahlon returned from his studies at Boston’s Harvard University to tell him that he would not receive the job.

Kahlon said in an interview three weeks ago that he expected to receive the post but had not yet decided whether to accept payment for it. On Tuesday, he said he did not want the job if he would have to be subordinate to Ariel rather than report directly to the prime minister.

Labor faction chairman Isaac Herzog, a former construction and housing minister, called Netanyahu’s broken promise to Kahlon “a dramatic failure.” He accused the prime minister of tricking the public in an effort to save his campaign.

The Movement for Quality Government sent Netanyahu an angry letter, accusing him of breaking a promise to his voters and creating an improper atmosphere in which the wider public could be harmed. The watchdog group said the prime minister should have demanded from his coalition partners that Kahlon receive the post.

“There is no doubt that this incident contributed to the nation’s lack of confidence in its elected officials and their promises,” said the movement’s spokeswoman, Ruth Margolin, “and this is very unfortunate.”


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