PM to appoint Kahlon chairman of Lands Authority

Netanyahu announces appointment of social-minded Likud minister who decided not to run for Knesset.

Netanyahu and Kahlon 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu and Kahlon 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
The Central Election Committee cut radio and television broadcasts of Likud Beytenu and Labor press conferences on Monday, forbidding media from playing quotes or clips of politicians’ speeches.
The committee’s ruling meant that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s appointment of departing Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon as Israel Lands Authority chairman and opposition reactions to it were largely ignored by the non-written press.
According to Central Election Committee chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein, any speech by a politician, or interview with a politician is considered campaigning, and was forbidden on Monday and Tuesday.
Kahlon, who was allowed to be interviewed because he is not running in the election, told Army Radio that Rubinstein’s directive went too far in his opinion, nevertheless adding, “it’s his prerogative; he’s a Supreme Court justice.”
Meanwhile, in a move to capture votes of Israelis worried about domestic issues and the economy, Netanyahu dedicated his last press conference on Monday to lowering the price of housing, and was joined by Kahlon on stage.
“We will [complete the reform of the ILA] with the help of the prime minister the same way we made a reform for the communications market, we will do it with real estate as well,” said Kahlon. “The previous government started with this, and the bigger the government, the more things they can do. Today, there is no reform because there are problems in the coalition. They know what to do and how to do it, but need the political power in order to make these reforms possible.”
The popular minister, best known for his fight to increase competition in the cellphone market in order to lower prices, added that he will work with the Bank of Israel and the Finance Ministry and will lower housing prices responsibly.
“Kahlon is the right person in the right place,” Netanyahu added.
Also Monday, in another press conference that could not be broadcast following a Likud Beytenu complaint to the Central Election Committee, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich blasted Kahlon’s appointment.
“Netanyahu doesn’t want the public to know the truth. The truth disturbed the prime minister in this election campaign,” she stated.
Yacimovich called Kahlon’s appointment “pathetic and improper,” because, according to the Labor leader, housing prices went up 48 percent under the Netanyahu government, and Israelis must save 103 months of their salary on average in order to buy a house.
“This is the truth Netanyahu does not want you to know.
These are bitter, difficult reminders of the reason we are going to an election, and Netanyahu does not want the public to know, because they may remember facts,” she said.
The Labor leader added that, according to law, the housing and construction minister appoints the ILA chairman, and that the attorney-general had instructed the government not to make political appointments during election time.
“What does Netanyahu think?” Yacimovich asked.
“That people will believe in a fictitious appointment, after prices went up 48%? It will only happen after [Kahlon] comes back from six months in Harvard. People should vote for Netanyahu because of that? This is an insult to the public’s intelligence, and shows [Netanyahu] is panicking.”
Tzipi Livni also called Kahlon’s appointment “a hysterical move by Netanyahu meant to stop a dive in polls.”
Speaking to voters at the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv, she said: “It’s not Kahlon, it’s Bibi [Netanyahu]. We need to replace the prime minister, not the head of the ILA. No fig leaf will cover up the failed housing policies of the last four years.”
Livni criticized the appointment as propaganda, and called for a prime minister with “true intentions and an ability to act.”
Slamming Netanyahu on the Kahlon appointment, Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid said on Monday that “if the issue of residential living is so important, then why is he appointing someone now who will only enter the office in six months?” “They finally realized [its an important issue]?” he asked rhetorically.
Lapid said that he had fought for a better living situation for “the middle class” for “months upon months.”
Parodying Netanyahu’s announcement he said that now “two days before the elections, the prime minister says he found a path to act on a dramatic and emergent basis” by appointing someone who “gave notice that he is traveling to the US to learn for four months?” “This [are] not exactly the emergency actions of someone who thinks that the issue is critical,” he added.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.