Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon [L] and Prime Minister Netanyahu at the announcement of the new Governor of the Bank of Israel, October 9, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The Likud’s governing secretariat approved an agreement on Tuesday with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party to run on a joint list if a September 17 election is initiated on Wednesday.
The agreement is not a merger of the two parties but merely an agreement to run together if the repeat election takes place. It is possible, though, that if a government is formed by Wednesday night’s deadline that the parties will merge anyway.
According to the agreement, Kahlon will receive the fifth slot on the Likud list, Economy Minister Eli Cohen the 15th, Construction Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton the 29th and faction chairman Roy Folkman will be number 35.
“Running together will give us 40 mandates,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the secretariat.
Kahlon faced criticism for the move from Blue and White, which sent 40 protesters to his home in Haifa. The protesters called him “spineless” and reminded him that he said his party would run alone on multiple occasions.
“We are an independent party, and we will remain an independent party,” Kahlon was quoted as saying in the past. He also promised repeatedly that he would demand that Netanyahu resign if indicted.
Kahlon sent a message to his party’s activists defending his move.
“Kulanu will remain a socioeconomic, right-wing, nationalist, statesmanlike party, and maintain its values we were founded to advance,” he said.
He urged a solution be found to prevent repeat elections.
“As finance minister, I can say with full confidence that too much money would be wasted,” he said. “We need those hundreds of millions in other places.”
The move also faced criticism inside the Likud. Most of the top figures in the party skipped the secretariat meeting and backbenchers expressed concern that the decision would result in the loss of their Knesset seats.
Likud MKs Michal Shir and Ariel Kallner appealed the decision of the secretariat to the Likud’s internal court. The two MKs said that only the Likud central committee has the authority to allow such a merger. But the head of the secretariat, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, said his body did have the authority and the decision was final.
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