Netanyahu Offers Kahlon Finance Portfolio

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Moshe Kahlon.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised over the weekend that if he forms the next government, Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon will be his finance minister regardless of how many seats Kulanu wins. But Kahlon dismissed the promise as spin designed to persuade voters to switch from Kulanu to Netanyahu’s Likud party at the last minute.

“If I’m elected, Moshe Kahlon will be finance minister in my government no matter how many seats he wins in the election. During my term as prime minister, we’ll work together to lower housing prices, as we worked together to lower cellular prices,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page Saturday night, referring to the reform instituted by Kahlon as communications minister during Netanyahu’s previous term as premier.

“I hope Kahlon will finally announce that he supports a Likud-led government, and deny the statement by his number two, Yoav Galant, that he’ll go with [Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog,” Netanyahu added.

In interviews with both Army Radio and Israel Radio Sunday, Netanyahu explained that he has no way to form a government without Kahlon, so regardless of how many seats Kulanu wins, “he’ll get a senior economic portfolio.”

Kahlon, however, dismissed this promise. “Forty-eight hours before the election, there was no doubt such spin would occur,” he told Army Radio. “The whole goal is to take votes away from Kulanu and transfer them to others.”

Earlier, Kahlon noted that Netanyahu had in the past promised him both the Finance Ministry and chairmanship of the Israel Lands Authority, but kept neither promise.

“The public is sick of promises,” he said. “It’s flattering, but it doesn’t solve the human problems of Israeli society. Only if the public gives me, gives Kulanu, enough power can we ensure that any government, whether Herzog’s or Netanyahu’s, will follow our path and not the failed path of [former Finance Minister Yair] Lapid.”

Herzog also scorned Netanyahu’s promise, telling Israel Radio Sunday that it “indicates panic.”

“In the last election, two days before the election he offered Moshe Kahlon responsibility for housing, then turned his back on him,” Herzog said. “I assume Kahlon is much too sensible and sober to fall into this net. I greatly admire Kahlon and see him as a very important partner in the government I intend to establish.”

But Herzog made no similar promise of the Finance Ministry to Kahlon, saying merely, “I think Kahlon’s plan for the banks is excellent, and I’ll be happy to implement it together with him.”