Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog (left) and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon on Wednesday joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s calls for the Zionist Union to enter the government despite Monday’s addition of Yisrael Beytenu to the coalition.
Zionist Union chairman Isaac Herzog called on Monday for Kahlon to take his Kulanu party’s 10 MKs out of the government. But in a speech in Netanya, where he was granted honorary citizenship, Kahlon rejected Herzog’s plea and tried to turn the tables on him.
“A regional peace conference can change the rules of the game, open new horizons to diplomatic progress and remove our relations with our neighbors from their current stalemate,” Kahlon said. “Such a step can significantly expedite further expansion of the coalition, and I think the Zionist Union will not be able to avoid taking part in this challenge. I call upon it to enter the government, because from the opposition a diplomatic process cannot be started and change cannot be created.”
Kahlon asked Netanyahu on Monday for Kulanu to be given the Economy portfolio that the prime minister has held since Shas leader Arye Deri shifted to the Interior Ministry. But Netanyahu said he was saving the portfolio for the Zionist Union, along with the Foreign Ministry, which the prime minister also controls.
The fate of the portfolios could be decided by the Labor leadership primary.
A date for the race is expected to be set by next week.
The two ministers who aided Netanyahu in expanding the coalition, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin and Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, both want the Economy portfolio.
New Minister-without-Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi has said that if the Economy Ministry is given to Kulanu, he would like the Environment portfolio, which the Likud would receive from Kulanu.
Environment minister Avi Gabbay of Kulanu quit last Friday to protest the firing of defense minister Moshe Ya’alon. Hanegbi is a former environment minister. The political appointments he made while in the post led to him being convicted in 2010 of perjury and swearing falsely under oath.