MOSHE KAHLON (center) visits with fellow Koolanu candidates.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Koolanu leader Moshe Kahlon has begun a more aggressive campaign approach over the past week in an attempt to stop the free fall in his poll numbers, he said Sunday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
Polls have shown that Israelis place socioeconomic matters first on their agenda and that they trust Kahlon more than any other party leader on those issues. The polls show voters want a leader who is clean and they see Kahlon as the cleanest party leader.
Nevertheless, he has fallen from 12 seats in the polls when the election season began on December 2 to an average of 7.5 in last week’s surveys.
“I also thought my numbers would be higher at this stage,” he said. “It will rise by March 17 [Election Day]. There is a big gap between what the public wants and what the polls say. We are trying to translate the popularity into support with an effective campaign and by winning over undecided voters.”
To that end, Koolanu released a campaign video Sunday spoofing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent video clip. Instead of an aide barging in and telling Netanyahu about reports of “scandals” about snails in his garden, in Kahlon’s ad, the aide tries to tell Netanyahu about children under the poverty line.
Koolanu also released an ad over the weekend portraying Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid as a clueless finance minister who was obsessed with social media. On Sunday he attacked former finance ministers Yuval Steinitz and Avraham Hirschson and said that he – unlike them – would know what to do with the post when he receives it.
While Kahlon has said he would not enter a coalition in which he is not in charge of the Israel Lands Authority, he said receiving the Finance portfolio was a request, not a demand. He said that only if he is finance minister can he lower the cost of living and housing as well as bridge socioeconomic gaps.
The Koolanu leader said Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett had not made any significant changes as economy minister and that he is disappointed Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog does not speak about opening markets.
While Shas and Yisrael Beytenu leaders hinted in recent days that they would recommend Netanyahu form the next government, Kahlon said he had no preference between Netanyahu and Herzog.
“We will support whoever gives the public more competition and is willing to fight monopolies and lower housing prices,” Kahlon said.
Netanyahu wrote on Twitter Sunday evening that he would form a wide coalition without left-wing parties and with Bayit Yehudi, but if Likud is not large enough, there is no guarantee he would be asked to form the government.
“The choice is between a large Likud and a left-wing government,” he wrote.
A source close to Kahlon said the party’s support would rise after catastrophic economic numbers are soon released.
Kahlon said he included American- born former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren on his list “not only because he can represent Israel better than anyone else in the world, but also because it’s important to represent ‘Anglos’ in the Knesset.”
“The truth is that The Jerusalem Post
is the most credible newspaper in Israel,” he said.