Moshe Kahlon: If not reappointed as minister, I’ll consider my next step

The Finance Minister talks about the election results, joining the Likud and the state of the economy. Claims he won’t “stick himself to the chair” if not reelected

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“I’m only dependent on God himself. Joining Bibi was a decision I made after four and a half years of working with him as the Finance minister, but I’m hoping to move on. After so many years of cooperation, I don’t see him turning his back on me”  were Moshe Kahlon’s words in an interview with Maariv, further saying that despite the hit at the ballot [in the recent elections], he would repeat the same steps and that he “regrets nothing” and his actions were the reason he made the “Kulanu” party.
“It may be a new phenomenon in politics, but if you take notice, nearly all the smaller parties have taken a huge hit, some didn’t pass the electoral threshold. Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked didn’t pass it the first time. On the other hand, Kulanu had nearly 5 mandates, plus some more votes from our agreements with the other parties- we would have gotten the fifth one” he then added: “I’ll admit it, I’m not ashamed: we should have gotten a better result, and I’m disappointed with the results. I thought we’d get about 7 or 8 mandates, but this is the will of the people”
In response to the question of his return to the Likud party, against his explicit word, and his possible tenure with Netanyahu, even if indicted, Kahlon made clear: “When I said I wanted to be independent, circumstances were different. After realizing that small and medium parties had little chance of survival and after the phenomenal accomplishment of 10 mandates, I decided with my fellow party members to join Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud."
Kahlon continued, “My conditions for joining the Likud were that another elections will have to take place, as did happen. Without the election, we would have remained independent. The agreement said that if Bibi could not form a government, the merger is canceled, and that only a few political commentators understood and wrote that I had made the right call”
He further adds: “Kulanu offered a certain path, and we held our promises in about 90% of what we said we would do. But the political reality proved that there’s no more room for smaller parties, and that is regardless of their agenda”
As for a third election, he answered: “there no doubt another election must be avoided, that having them will cause massive damage to the economy, and every business man can know that. I’ll take this opportunity to call all sides to put their egos aside, and work feverishly to make a unity government possible. As I put my ego aside despite criticism, so should the others. We must think of what’s best for the country. The last election result have shown that no side won, just like a soccer tie.”
“Whoever claims victory is misleading the public” Kahlon continued. “The public chose a unity government. If there was a unity note in the ballot it would have received 70 mandates. It’s very difficult these days to say if we’re going for a third election, but I believe a unity government will come eventually.”
In regard to the criticisms against him regarding his policies increasing the nation’s debt he said, "Let me tell you a little secret, a behind-the-scenes of my meetings in Washington last week. The world is more worried about the markets slowing down, rather than national debt. To accelerate growth they don’t believe in cutting expenses, but actually expanding investments, even if it increases debt.” According to him, “the whole debt story has gotten out of hand, it’s not the most dramatic figures considering the GDP, which is 1.4 billion NIS. Every few years there are some debt problems and the government works to eliminate it. Recent years the income forecast never once reached its goal, neither here nor there.”
The finance minister then described his relationship with the governor of the Bank of Israel as excellent. In regard to the state of the dollar, Kahlon said: “The exchange rate and the dollar are not under my jurisdiction, but rather the bank of Israel’s. Still, I don’t see an option in the near future that the shekel will weaken in the face of the dollar. The explanation to the shekel’s strength is that the economy is doing great, the payment balance and high exportation rates. The shekel is powerful on an international level”