Kahlon Declined Netanyahu's Offer of Treasury in Exchange for Merger

Kahlon was reportedly offered the Finance Ministry portfolio in exchange for a joint Knesset ticket.

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Moshe Kahlon.
Moshe Kahlon.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly offered Kulanu chairman Moshe Kahlon the role of finance minister in the next government if he agreed to run on a joint ticket in the upcoming election.

This week, the Israeli media waited with bated breath for the leaders of Likud and Habayit Hayehudi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, respectively, to call for a joint press conference and announce a merger. Netanyahu, in the meantime, was looking into other options.

A mediator, acting on his behalf, approached Kahlon, with a proposal for his party Kulanu, to run on a joint ticket with Likud, in exchange for portfolios in the next government, including the Finance Ministry portfolio for Kahlon himself. The proposition was rejected; one could even say it was rejected outright.

Such a plan, if actualized, could have been a game-changing, election-winning stroke of genius for Netanyahu. After the election, Bennett will most definitely recommend to the president that Netanyahu form the next government. Bennett has no other candidate, he's in Netanyahu's back pocket. Kahlon, on the other hand, is not. At the moment, it seems as if Kahlon won't name either of the two frontrunners, Netanyahu, or Labor's Isaac Herzog, as his recommendation for prime minister.

Kahlon's silence at the president's residence could force President Reuven Rivlin to publicly call on Netanyahu and Herzog to sit down and figure out how to form a "unity" government, to use the euphemism, despite the fact that "unity" would have a snowball's chance in hell within such a government.

On the other hand, if Kulanu and Likud run on a joint ticket, it's all over for Herzog. Without Kahlon, there is no scenario in which Herzog can form a government. Kahlon rejected the offer, however. "I don't zig-zag," he reportedly said, adding "my positions are known, as is the way I do things."

Kahlon also reportedly said this week that between Netanyahu and Herzog, both long-time acquaintances of his, he would always choose to believe Herzog. After the polls close on March 17, during the charge to the president's house, Netanyahu will have to work much harder on convincing Kahlon, who was once a popular minister in Netanyahu's government.

If you think about it, you can understand that Kahlon had no choice but to turn down the tempting offer. If he said yes, after furiously leaving Netanyahu's government two years ago, he would immediately go from being a well-respected population, the most appreciated in the public arena at the moment, to a clown, a laughing stock, and the punching bag of the 2015 election.

The Kulanu party did not respond to request for comment.

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