Former Yesh Atid Minister: Election Talks Held With Lieberman, Kahlon

Creating a centrist bloc would be 'good for Israel,' says Meir Cohen; Kahlon's campaign denies contacts.

Olivier Fitoussi

Former Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen on Thursday claimed talks are being held between his party Yesh Atid, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon on pre-election coordination.

Kahlon's campaign denied any talks are being held.

Speaking at a convention in Jerusalem, Cohen said creating a political bloc made up of Yesh Atid, Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu and Khalon's new party, Kulanu, "will be good for Israel."

Labor Party chairman Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni On Wednesday agreed to run on a joint ticket in the upcoming elections. One day later, Cohen disclosed that talks had been held between Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid regarding a merger, but failed due to Livni's demand on a rotation system in which the two leaders would divide the term as prime minister between them.

"Yesterday's merger [between Labor and Hatnuah] proves that on the one hand there is an extremist rightwing block being led by [Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali] Bennett, and on the other hand there is the left, and in the center there's us," Cohen said.

Referring to his term as social affairs minister, Cohen said he refuses "to be in a government whose basic guidelines do not include a significant change in the attitude towards poverty on the part of the Israeli government."

Cohen said that for two years the prime minister did not invite him to a discussion of the poverty line. "A prime minister who did not call the Social Affairs Minister to discuss the poverty line even once is not worthy of being a prime minister."