Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File].
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Koolanu leader Moshe Kahlon laid out several policy stances for the first time Wednesday in a series of interviews to radio and television, including his desire to be finance minister and his support for same-sex marriage.
Kahlon had previously said that he wants to be in control of the Israel Lands Authority, which falls under the Construction Ministry, but later added that he would want to have power over the body no matter which ministry he got. On Wednesday, he made clear that his ambition is to hold the Finance Ministry.
“We are aiming for the Finance Ministry because that’s where we can get these things done,” he told Army Radio, listing reforms in housing, finance and the cost of living. He also said that Koolanu would not run with any other party in the upcoming elections, casting aside rumors that he was considering running with Yesh Atid or even the party in which he grew up, Likud.
On diplomatic issues, he reiterated that Koolanu would be there to “support” an agreement with the Palestinians, but said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not – at the moment – a partner for peace, because he was pursuing action against Israel at the International Criminal Court and the United Nations.
“I am a man who can support a diplomatic solution. At the moment, sadly, there’s no partner, but the second there will be a courageous person on the other side who can reach peace or a diplomatic solution, we will be there to support it,” he said.
In any agreement, however, Jerusalem could not be divided, there could be no discussion of the Palestinian refugee issue, and there would not be a return to the pre-1967 borders, he said.
The Koolanu leader would not answer whether he would vote for evacuating settlements or not, though he was asked several times.
Kahlon also said his party would only accept a peace agreement in which Jerusalem remains united and the Palestinians give up their demand that refugees of the War of Independence and their descendants move to Israel.
Even Tzipi Livni, the former chief negotiator who is running on a joint list with Labor in this election, said the Palestinians deserve some blame for the current stalemate, Kahlon said.
While voicing respect for Livni, Kahlon was harsher on the rest of Labor’s newly appointed list, calling it “a list of stars” without experience in actually making changes.
Yet Kahlon also brandished social credentials, telling Army Radio that he supports Israel recognizing same-sex marriage.
“I am personally not against it,” he said. “Let everyone live their lives and decide to which institution they want to belong, although I am traditional.”
Kahlon admitted that his most recent party addition, Tsega Melaku, may not be able to run due to a technical issue. Melaku, who worked for the state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority, had not resigned her post in time for the election. Kahlon said the party would await guidance from the Central Elections Committee over the issue, which he said was merely a technical one.
The Koolanu leader also spoke out against his former party, Likud, denying that his moving parties is a matter of ego.
According to Kahlon, in recent years Likud abandoned social issues.
“I am a [former prime minister Menachem] Begin Likudnik,” he stated. “The party moved elsewhere.”
Kahlon explained that as a minister from a separate party, he could have a greater influence than a minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s party, because he would have more leverage.