Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog (left) and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel’s credit rating is not rising because international credit agencies perceive that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s narrow, 61-MK coalition is unstable, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said on Monday in a briefing for parliamentary reporters in the Knesset.
In a report released October 16, in which the international credit agency Fitch affirmed Israel’s rating but did not raise it, Fitch wrote that Netanyahu’s small majority is constraining policy-making in his administration.
Netanyahu’s associates deny this assessment, saying the coalition’s homogeneity creates stability and helps the prime minister govern without having his arm twisted by politicians with different agendas at opposite ends of the political spectrum.
But Kahlon used the report Monday to try to push Netanyahu to expand the government. He said he would be happy with any Zionist party entering the coalition, including Meretz.
“It is important to expand the government as soon as possible because the narrow government makes it difficult to function,” Kahlon said.
“I have been pressuring the prime minister to widen the coalition. I would even give up the Finance portfolio for [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog.”
Kahlon surprised reporters at the briefing when he said he was staying in Kulanu “at the moment.” He said Netanyahu had spoken to him on multiple occasions about his idea of merging Kulanu with Likud, to form a larger rightwing party.
“The prime minister has a desire to build a bloc that would run together,” Kahlon said. “I am staying in Kulanu at the moment. I didn’t form Kulanu to return to Likud.”
Kahlon said problems happen in coalitions when one party does not respect another. He said that was not happening in the current coalition.
He said he supported Netanyahu’s recent security steps. But unlike Netanyahu, he gave credit to the Palestinian Authority, saying it is also trying to bring calm.
Kahlon claimed credit for preventing proposed legislative changes that would harm the courts. He met Sunday with Supreme Court president Miriam Naor.
He defended his decision to give Kulanu’s World Zionist Organization Executive post and the co-chairmanship of the Keren Kayemet Le’Israel (Jewish National Fund) to his political mentor, former minister Uzi Landau, and not to Ethiopian-born broadcaster Tsega Melaku.
“Uzi Landau’s experience and his integrity is needed in the KKL,” he said.