Analysis: Stop expecting Kahlon to save the day

Anyone who has been paying attention should not be surprised by the outcome. Kahlon is pretty consistent.

November 17, 2016 08:59
3 minute read.
netanyahu kahlon

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU and finance minister Moshe Kahlon.. (photo credit: REUTERS/BAZ RATNER)

If there is one political lesson that has been reinforced again and again since this government came into power last year, it is that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon really cares only about being finance minister.

It is not necessarily a bad thing to have a finance minister who wants to think about finances. There is a strong argument to be made that Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid’s downfall in that role was related to his lack of Kahlon’s singular focus.

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And yet, every time there is some kind of controversy or potential coalition crisis, the Left somehow expects Kahlon to save the day by taking up their cause, even when that cause nothing to do with economic policy.

A little word of advice: Stop pinning your hopes on Kahlon. It’s not gonna happen.

Wednesday’s preliminary vote on the outpost bill, which has the potential to legalize more than 2,000 homes in the West Bank, drove this point home yet again.

On Tuesday, Kahlon mentioned that he won’t support the bill if it harms the High Court of Justice in any way, and he will ask Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit if it does. Except that, Mandelblit already gave his negative opinion of the bill a week before, and emphatically repeated it on Sunday, so Kahlon already knew the answer.

The next day, the coalition was in a frenzy trying to get together enough votes, and Kulanu debated intensely what to do. The party’s MKs were all of the opinion that the bill is bad for the courts, but they deliberated whether to uphold its platform, which states that it will defend rule of law and the high court – and in fact, Kulanu has veto power in the coalition on these issues – or if it will vote in favor of the proposal, in order not to put the budget in jeopardy, since Bayit Yehudi had threatened not to vote for the budget if Kulanu kills the outpost bill.

In the end, the budget came first.

Anyone who has been paying attention should not be surprised by the outcome.

Kahlon is pretty consistent.

When Kahlon was in the Likud he was not a moderate, but firmly on the Right of the party. For one thing, he was one of the Likud rebels against the Gaza disengagement.

When the outpost bill came up in 2012, Kahlon said he would go against the coalition’s official position at the time to vote in its favor, though it never ended up going to a vote. And those are just some of his pro-settlement bona fides.

This week – if Kahlon really wanted to block the outpost bill – he could have submitted an appeal at any time since Sunday evening when the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved it. The appeal would mean that it cannot go to any votes in the Knesset until the cabinet votes on it. This is not an obscure rule; a seasoned politician such as Kahlon would surely know about it. And yet, Kahlon didn’t invoke it.

And, in any case, Kahlon says very clearly that budget and economic issues are his top priority.

Take another issue that roiled the Knesset in recent weeks: public broadcasting. There are no simple answers to this complicated and convoluted issue.

Whatever the outcome, people will lose jobs (in addition to those who already have) and the government will have wasted millions.

All Kahlon has to say on the issue, and he has said it repeatedly, is that he doesn’t care what the outcome is, as long as it doesn’t cost more money.

“I’ll do anything within the framework of the existing budget.

That’s my answer,” he said on Tuesday.

Widespread outrage ensued on the political Left and the media, which, let’s face it, loves to report on itself and has mostly taken the side of the incipient Israel Broadcasting Corporation in this debate.

But really, what did they expect? Listen to what the man has to say. The Finance Ministry comes first. Nothing else is going to win when the budget is on the line.

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