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.”
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.”
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.
Netanyahu downplayed the problems in a speech to the Knesset
“Every new coalition has birth pangs,” he said. “Four years
ago, I stood here and everybody said that my coalition was going to fall
They kept on saying it, but the coalition lasted four
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.
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