Key Likud activists, including heads of party branches, are pushing former communications minister Moshe Kahlon to run with Yisrael Beytenu in the next general election, political sources revealed Tuesday.
The sources said that Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman had been petitioned by Likud activists to make a bond with Kahlon, as he did with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the last election.
Liberman and Kahlon are close friends.
They both recently gave interviews in which they were complimentary of each other and critical of Likud. Liberman ruled out running with Likud, though Kahlon left the door open to remaining in Likud if it adopted a socioeconomic agenda.
A Ma’agar Mohot poll broadcast on Channel 10 last Thursday found that if Liberman ran on a ticket with Kahlon, the party would win 22 seats and beat the Likud, which would win 19, and Labor, which would win 18.
Makor Rishon columnist Sofia Ron Moria reported that Liberman and Kahlon’s associates had held several meetings about joining forces and that Yisrael Beytenu’s American strategist Arthur Finkelstein was involved in the effort.
Finkelstein was the architect of the Likud Beytenu bond before the last election.
The report said the party had requested in-depth surveys to examine the possibility.
A Yisrael Beytenu spokesman would neither confirm nor deny the report.
Kahlon has criticized the Likud for moving too far to the Right.
Right-wing activists in Likud have been taking out ads in Hebrew in recent days, pushing Likud ministers to oppose a prospective deal with the Palestinians in which Israeli Arab prisoners would be freed.
Activists published ads Tuesday criticizing Labor and Meretz MKs for going to Ramallah to meet with Palestinians Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the same time as the funeral of Israeli policeman Baruch Mizrahi, who was killed en route to a Passover Seder in Kiryat Arba. The ads pictured Mizrahi’s funeral on top of a photograph of the meeting in Ramallah.
“While the Kaddish [memorial prayer] was being said on Mizrahi’s grave, a group of leftist, extremist MKs, led by Labor secretary-general Hilik Bar, forgot what side they are on,” the ad said. “They took pictures smiling under a picture of [former Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat and embraced Abbas, who did not condemn the murder.”
Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg, who was part of the delegation, called upon State Comptroller Yosef Shapira to investigate the Likud activists who sponsored the ad.
“The Likud’s use of a grieving family for politics is shameful, inciteful, and sickening,” Bar said. “The Likud’s lack of leadership led to [Mizrahi’s murder] and will lead to similar incidents in the future. We will not be scolded by a party that evacuated communities and received nothing but terror in return.”