Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Moshe Kahlon, head of the Kulanu party, cancelled his Thursday meetings with Likud representatives that were meant to help form the next government coalition.
Kahlon's decision came after Netanyahu had expressed willingness Wednesday night to give MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) the chairmanship of the Knesset Finance Committee and Shas leader Arye Deri the chairmanship of the Interior Ministry's construction planning authority.
Kahlon said that the decision to cancel negotiations came "after the Likud's political maneuver to hand out jobs at the expense of providing the needed tools to bring down housing costs and deal with the cost of living, before the coalition negotiations teams had even sat down."
In response, the Likud party called Kahlon's actions confusing and unnecessary. "The place to clarify issues like this is around the negotiation table."
In addition to what would have been a meeting with Kulanu, Likud negotiators are meeting all day Thursday with representatives of Bayit Yehudi, Shas, Yisrael Beytenu, and United Torah Judaism.
The aim is to form a new governing coalition by Independence Day Eve (April 22). The holiday coincides with the deadline for forming a coalition after the likeliest candidate receives a 28-day mandate from the president. If Netanyahu does not form a coalition by then, he can ask Rivlin for another 14 days, but the president would be under no obligation to grant it.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Kahlon, their first meeting in two years and said he would keep his promise to appoint Kahlon finance minister
and also give Kulanu other socioeconomic portfolios.
"Your success is everyone's success," Netanyahu reportedly told Kahlon in the meeting.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.