Netanyahu aims to keep power to choose ministers

Will Kahlon be Israel's next foreign minister?

Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu pouts like a chimp 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu has been blocking for weeks a proposal by the Likud central committee to take the power to select the party's ministers away from the Likud chairman and give it to the committee. If it were to pass and Netanyahu won the next election, his ministers would be picked by the central committee, an organization that has a bad reputation for extorting politicians in the past. Likud officials said that in such a scenario, the most popular Likud MK among central committee members, MK Moshe Kahlon, could be Israel's next foreign minister. People who have heard Kahlon speak English have said he does not have a strong enough command of the language to address a group. However, he is known for attending more weddings and family celebrations of central committee members than any other MK. The central committee rewarded Kahlon by placing him first on the current Likud list after Netanyahu and MK Silvan Shalom, whose slots were reserved. "Moshe can do anything," Kahlon's spokesman said when asked if he were interested in becoming foreign minister. Hundreds of central committee members have signed a petition calling for a special session of the committee to pass the proposal. But the committee cannot meet to consider the proposal until it passes the party's law committee and its internal court. The committee asked the court to rule on the proposal several weeks ago but has not made a decision yet. Netanyahu's opponents in the Likud accused him of interfering to stall the proposal. Sources close to Netanyahu denied that he interfered. But they said Netanyahu strongly opposed the proposal. Netanyahu succeeded in convincing the committee members to give up the right to select the party's MKs last year after a public outcry against the committee led in part to the establishment of Kadima. "The proposal will not pass, because central committee members will realize how much electoral damage it would do to the party," a senior Likud official who supports Netanyahu said. "It would return the party to its dark days." Netanyahu and Shalom were set to meet at the Knesset Wednesday after press time for the second time since their reconciliation.