Kahlon says his party won’t join Likud in next election

Likud Party court set to rule on leadership race Sunday.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, September 3, 2015  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, September 3, 2015
Kulanu will run on its own in the next general election, despite pressure from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join forces with the Likud, Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon said on Saturday.
There have been reports about Netanyahu wanting to form a larger bloc of parties – ahead of the next general election – that would run together in order to ensure he will form the next government.
Kahlon joined Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman in vowing not to join such a bloc, despite a report that Netanyahu would promise that Kahlon would remain finance minister in the next government.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been people in the Likud who for their own interests have spread rumors and political spin to create a false impression that there have been contacts with Kulanu about merging,” Kahlon wrote on his official Facebook page. “I returned to politics to right wrongs that perpetuated inequality and created intolerable socioeconomic gaps. Kulanu is making changes that should have been made decades ago.”
Kahlon listed several steps Kulanu has taken to bridge the gaps by directly aiding the elderly, poor workers, young families, and enlisted soldiers.
“We have no intention of joining a political framework that prefers to act in a way that is not our way,” he said. “The opposite. If there are those who believe in our path so much, they can join us.”
Nevertheless, Netanyahu is expected to work on seeking such political partnerships to prepare the Likud for the next general election soon after the February 23 Likud leadership primary, in which he is likely to run unopposed.
The primary could still end up not happening, because Netanyahu’s proposal to advance the leadership race is being challenged on Sunday in an internal Likud court.
The court’s chief judge, former MK Michael Kleiner, said the judges would listen equally to the cases for and against allowing the advancement of the primary, and that he was not leaning to one side or another.
The only Likud politicians who have come out against advancing the primary are Transportation Minister Israel Katz and former minister Gideon Sa’ar. Welfare Minister Haim Katz said at a cultural event on Saturday that he hoped Sa’ar ends his self-declared time out from political life.
“Gideon Sa’ar should be in Likud and he is needed, even though he cannot defeat Netanyahu,” said Katz, who is running for Likud central committee chairman in a race that will be held on Tuesday.
Katz revealed that Netanyahu had offered him the vacant Economy portfolio last week but he turned it down.
The prime minister is expected to decide which ministers to promote in order to replace former minister Silvan Shalom later this week.
Shalom’s replacement in the Knesset, attorney Amir Ohana, formally entered the Knesset on Saturday night when Shalom’s resignation became official. Ohana, who will be the Likud’s first openly gay MK, will be sworn-in to the Knesset on Monday in the presence of his life partner and their adopted twins.