Netanyahu offers Kahlon Finance Ministry ahead of election

Kahlon rebuffs pre-election "spin"; Zionist Union does not match offer.

March 15, 2015 09:48
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Moshe Kahlon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [File]. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday offered Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon the finance portfolio in an attempt to co-opt the likely kingmaker of the next government.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Netanyahu said he would extend the offer to Kahlon regardless of the number of mandates his party ultimately achieves in the election, adding that the Likud would be unable to form a coalition government without the inclusion of Kulanu.

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The final polls released before Tuesday’s impending election showed roughly even blocs on both the Left and Right, leaving Kahlon’s centrist party in the position to put either the Likud or Zionist Union over the top by supporting their governments.

Netanyahu said that with Kahlon in the Finance Ministry, the government would work toward lowering housing costs in a move similar to Kahlon’s cellular-market reforms.

Kahlon called Netanyahu’s offering a “spin” in his campaigning, citing a similar offer two years ago that did not come to fruition when push came to shove. In the run-up to the 2013 elections, Netanyahu promised Kahlon run of the Israel Lands Authority, which is controlled by the Construction Ministry. After the elections, however, Netanyahu instead gave the position to Bayit Yehudi, which installed Uri Ariel in the post.

Kahlon said Netanyahu’s intentions were to mislead the public and decrease the amount of mandates Kulanu wins in the impending elections.

Nevertheless, Kahlon said the offer was “flattering,” and emphasized that he would not rule out cooperation with Netanyahu or Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog.

“Only if the public allows me, and Kulanu, to have enough power, will we be able to ensure that any government, whether Herzog or Netanyahu, follows our path and not the failed path of [Yesh Atid head and former finance minister Yair] Lapid,” Kahlon said.

Herzog, meanwhile, expressed his appreciation of Kahlon on Israeli radio, saying he sees him as an integral part of a Zionist Union-led coalition.

He praised Kahlon’s economic proposals, among them a banking reform proposition that, among other things, would split credit cards from banks, and indicated that he would be glad to implement the changes with Kahlon in his government.

Unlike Netanyahu, Herzog did not extend an offer of the finance minister position to Kahlon.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, Zionist Union candidate Erel Margalit echoed that the party would not be “starting negotiations before the election results are in.”

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