Bennett denies nixing Kahlon's appointment to ILA

Bayit Yehudi head rejects PM's version of who is to blame for failing to appoint former minister to Israel Land Authority.

June 6, 2013 01:16
2 minute read.
PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Moshe Kahlon at press conference, January 20, 2013.

Netanyahu and Kahlon 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett on Wednesday rejected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s version of who is to blame for Netanyahu breaking his campaign promise to appoint popular former minister Moshe Kahlon as chairman of the Israel Lands Authority.

Netanyahu told the Knesset that the results of the election did not enable him to keep the Construction and Housing Ministry in the Likud’s hands.

He said he told Kahlon that because Bayit Yehudi controlled the ministry, if he was appointed he would not be able to be as effective, so he did not take the job.

The Israel Hayom newspaper, which is considered pro- Netanyahu, ran a headline Wednesday saying “Bayit Yehudi prevented the appointment of Kahlon to chairman of the authority.” The article quoted Netanyahu’s associates saying that the appointment did not take place because Bennett opposed moving the authority from the Construction and Housing Ministry to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We aren’t torpedoing anything,” Bennett told Channel 2. “Kahlon is a great guy. The coalition agreement says he will be appointed to the job.

We wouldn’t stop such a thing.”

When asked whether Bennett had told Netanyahu that he did not want the authority moved, he said, “No, no, no. We didn’t talk about this issue.”

The problem with the Kahlon appointment was seen as one of many recent difficulties for Netanyahu’s coalition. Bayit Yehudi has repeatedly sparred with Hatnua on matters of religion and state, Yesh Atid fought Likud over drafting haredim, and in a secret ballot vote, two opposition MKs were appointed to the judicial selection committee, while the coalition’s candidate was rejected.

But Netanyahu downplayed the problems in a speech to the Knesset Wednesday.

“Every new coalition has birth pangs,” he said. “Four years ago, I stood here and everybody said that my coalition was going to fall apart.

They kept on saying it, but the coalition lasted four years.”

Coalition chairman Yariv Levin wrote letters to the heads of the parties in the coalition asking them to improve the behavior of their colleagues in the Knesset.

“I am holding up a mirror to them,” he said. “I hope that will encourage them to improve their behavior, but I have my doubts. The party heads need to decide whether they want to work together, because the coalition has not been functioning.”

Levin said the coalition had been paralyzed by parties in the coalition vetoing the bills of other coalition parties.

He noted that the government was formed the same way, with Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi vetoing the haredi parties and forcing Netanyahu to form a coalition smaller than he intended.

“All the problems came from the fact that the coalition is not large enough to prevent parties from being able to topple it,” Levin said. “But we still have not lost a vote, and we hope things will get better.”

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