Kulanu: Too soon to talk about taking down the prime minister

Three lawmakers from the party participated in Saturday night’s right-wing anti-corruption rally in Jerusalem.

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December 27, 2017 06:06
2 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu Party will hold a crucial faction meeting that may lead to the end of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, after the release of police recommendations to indict him, which are expected in the coming weeks, Kulanu sources said on Tuesday.

While other parties in Netanyahu’s coalition have said they do not believe the police recommendations should initiate an election, Kahlon, whose party has championed the rule of law, has made no such commitment.

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Three Kulanu MKs, for example, participated in Saturday night’s right-wing anti-corruption rally in Jerusalem.

The rally’s organizers said it was sanctioned and received behind-the-scenes support from Kulanu.

“When the recommendations come out, we will look at them, and any comment beforehand is premature,” Kulanu Deputy Minister Michael Oren said.

“We respect the work of the police.”

Sources in the party vigorously denied a report in Haaretz that Kahlon was worried that the police recommendations against Netanyahu could lead to a split in Kulanu. The report said MKs such as Rachel Azaria or Eli Alalouf could decide to leave the coalition due to the recommendations.

“Eli has no intention of leaving the coalition,” Alalouf’s spokeswoman said. “He is the head of a Knesset committee, and he has a lot of work to do. He will not say anything beyond that, and we are waiting to see what happens. Eli has obligations to Kahlon and to his own conscience. He is close to Kahlon, and everything is okay.”


One MK said he could not see his colleagues leaving Kulanu for another party.

“Where are they going to go?” he asked. “There are genuine disagreements on matters of principle, but no one is talking about breaking off.”

Sources in the party confirmed a Channel 10 report that in Monday’s closed-door faction meeting, Kulanu told the MKs to stop criticizing Netanyahu and not to speak about the recommendations against the prime minister on social media.

“We work from the morning until late at night helping the public with socioeconomic issues, and the press is focused on the police recommendations bill,” Kahlon lamented to the lawmakers.

“Focusing on that makes people forget our accomplishments. What hurts Kulanu most is our own MKs. There is no guarantee you will be in the Knesset after the next election.”

Sources at the meeting said the overwhelming majority of it dealt with Kahlon’s plans for the 2019 state budget, and that his efforts to pass it are moving full speed ahead and are coordinated with Netanyahu. The sources said Kahlon is eager for corruption to leave the public’s agenda and for the budget to take center stage.

“There is no denying that we are under pressure, but we can handle it, and any talk of a split is the opposite of the truth,” a party source said.

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