Senior Likud Beytenu officials, including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin,
mediated between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Communications Minister
Moshe Kahlon on Thursday – in a last-ditch attempt to convince Kahlon to stay in
Kahlon, who announced two weeks ago that he was not running
for the 19th Knesset but said he was staying in the Likud, is considering
forming a more socially minded party. He presided over Monday’s Likud central
committee meeting, which approved the joint Knesset run with Yisrael
“Come home. You’re part of the Likud’s DNA,” Rivlin, who is
close to Kahlon, told the minister in a phone conversation on Thursday
The Knesset speaker also asked Netanyahu not to give up hope,
saying there was still a chance to “bring Kahlon home.”
chairman Avigdor Liberman’s spokesman would neither confirm nor deny that he was
also trying to persuade Netanyahu and Kahlon to meet and that he had offered
Kahlon one of his party’s top spots on the joint Likud Beytenu Knesset
Netanyahu’s close associate and former chief of staff
Natan Eshel met with Kahlon on Thursday night, according to Channel 2 News.
Eshel would not comment on the report, and said he was not aware of any effort
on the prime minister’s part to keep Kahlon in the Likud.
At press time,
Kahlon had yet to make a decision, and was waiting for the results of a second
poll he commissioned – after one on Tuesday night gave his theoretical party 20
seats. Should the second poll show his party getting 10 or more spots in the
next Knesset, Kahlon’s allies say he will definitely establish a party.
Geocartography Institute poll on Thursday showed a Kahlon-led party getting 10
seats in the next Knesset.
Meanwhile, several Likud ministers and MKs
contacted Kahlon about joining his new party, as did Prof.
Trajtenberg, who chaired the Committee for Socioeconomic Change that the prime
minister established after the social justice protests of summer
The Likud primary race is tight this year, with more than 110
candidates vying for 25 Likud spots in the Likud Beytenu list, according to
Thursday’s Smith Research/Jerusalem Post poll.
However, MK Carmel
Shama-Hacohen, a close ally of Kahlon, said in several interviews that he would
stay in the Likud, even if the latter asked him to join a new
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) hinted at the rumors of
Kahlon’s departure during a panel at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya on
“There is a phenomenon, which I see as negative, in politics,
which is splitting and splitting and splitting parties in the political
Every election new parties pop up; some survive one or two terms and
some not at all,” Steinitz said. “After the unity deal in the Likud [with
Yisrael Beytenu], I said that I see uniting political powers as a positive thing
for the State of Israel, preventing coalition blackmail.”
maverick Shas MK Haim Amsalem confirmed that his associates and Kahlon’s spoke
One possibility the sides discussed was for Kahlon to join
Amsalem’s Am Shalem party.
In an interview with Channel 2 News, Amsalem
said “the probability exists.”
Sources close to Kahlon confirmed the
meeting, but said the minister was unlikely to join Am Shalem.
spokesman for Arye Deri told The Jerusalem Post that reports that the joint Shas
leader met with Kahlon on Thursday were not true.
Earlier, Deri sounded a
note of criticism over how Shas had operated during his 13-year absence from
Responding to a question about gaps in socioeconomic status in
the country, Deri said that “Shas has not done enough” in this
“We will do more, but I admit we should have done more, this is
what I’m here for,” he said, adding, however, that the situation would have been
even worse if Shas would not have been in the government.
Speaking at a
conference on local government, joint Shas leader Interior Minister Eli Yishai
noted cynically what he described as a rush by various political parties to
represent Sephardim and the weaker sectors of society.
“The march [among political parties] to search for Sephardi
representatives to adorn a Knesset [electoral] list is a racist signal that
proves the necessity of Shas,” he claimed. “Shas advances Sephardim and the weak
sectors of society, and does not ask that [anyone else] will do so.”
happy that everyone is copying Shas’s slogan of social [justice] ahead of the
elections, maybe after the elections we’ll ask them for royalties,” Yishai
“I only hope that they will remember that [they are for]
social [justice] after the elections as well, and not as has happened in the
past with various parties that are mentioned [only] in the annals of history,
or...[by] those who are destined to enter them,” he added.