Kahlon, Netanyahu Reach Coalition Pact in Latest Meeting

Kulanu wrests planning administration from Interior Ministry, which is slated for Shas.

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Moshe Kahlon speaks with PM Benjamin Netanyahu during a Likud party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, Oct. 15, 2012.Credit: Reuters

Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party will have charge of the planning administration if the party joins Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, the two men decided Tuesday.

At a meeting Tuesday, the two reached agreement on most of the outstanding issues that had hitherto prevented them from signing a coalition agreement. Both parties stressed that the deal has yet to be finalized, but political sources predicted that it would be concluded and signed after Independence Day.

Sources briefed on the meeting said Netanyahu had resolved one of the key disputes between the parties by acceding to Kahlon’s demand that the planning administration be moved from the Interior Ministry to one of the ministries earmarked for Kulanu. It’s not yet clear how Shas, which is slated to get the Interior Ministry, will be compensated for this loss.

Kahlon also made it clear to Netanyahu that his party adamantly opposes two bills to reduce the Supreme Court’s power. Likud has demanded that the coalition agreement include a commitment to passing these bills. But political sources said Kahlon’s rejection of this demand will force Netanyahu to drop it.

“Netanyahu can’t replace Kulanu with another party because of its opposition to the two bills; if Netanyahu gives up on Kahlon and decides to try to bring in Zionist Union instead, he’ll discover that [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog also vehemently opposes enacting those bills,” one source said. “Netanyahu presumably won’t call new elections over this issue. Therefore, these bills will evidently not appear in the coalition agreement.”

Even if the bills aren’t in the coalition agreement, Likud and Habayit Hayehudi could still try to enact them. Without Kulanu, they probably lack the necessary votes. But if the bills are approved by the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, Kulanu would be obliged by coalition discipline to support them.