Koolanu chairman Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHERS)
Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon said on Sunday that both the Likud and the Zionist Union are pressuring him to declare support for their parties; but the Likud has threatened to go after him personally if he did not publicly support his former party, according to a Kulanu spokesman.
“They are putting heavy pressure on us from both sides, both from the Likud and from the Zionist Union,” Kahlon said at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. “After one phone call, I could be finance minister in ten minutes. To be finance minister, I need many mandates and not deals with anyone,” he continued.
Kahlon may be the king-maker in the next government.
Though his party is polling at just eight seats, current data shows the Left and Right blocs likely to get a similar number of mandates.
The Centrist Kulanu could potentially tip the scales depending on which party it recommends to form the next government.
Though Kahlon mentioned both the Zionist Union and the Likud in his remarks, he singled out the latter for harsh criticism.
“I joined the Likud because of socioeconomic issues and I left the Likud when I saw that the Likud had moved on [from such issues]. The Likud has abandoned Begin’s way,” he said.
Kahlon, best known for the cellular reforms he spearheaded as the Likud’s communications minister, said he quit the Knesset as a minister and MK because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blocked other reforms he wanted to push through.
“The prime minister didn’t interfere with the cellular reform, but when I continued to other reforms, he blocked me,” Kahlon said.
A Likud spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
He also went after Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, who he said had squandered his opportunity as finance minister to make change.
Yet in a show of support for Lapid’s positions, Kahlon said he would not support rolling back the equality of burden law, which moves toward integrating haredim (ultra-Orthodox) into the IDF and workforce, and would support core curriculum studies for haredim.
Haredi parties are bitter at Lapid for championing such moves in the last government, and are using the issues as bargaining chips for their own entry into a possible coalition. Lapid has promised that he would not sit in a government that undid such reforms.