Israeli Elections Will Be Held Right After Local Election, Finance Minister Claims

Moshe Kahlon cites insurmountable obstacles facing government, ministerial disputes; says his Kulanu party will not commit to joining a new Likud-led coalition

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who is also chairman of the Kulanu political party, July 16, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

The Knesset election will be scheduled for early 2019, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said in a radio interview on Tuesday.

“I estimate that immediately after the municipal elections, there will be a call for a general election, [to be held] between February and March,” Kahlon told Radio Darom.

"I don’t see the government overcoming all the obstacles facing it," added Kahlon, who is also head of the Kulanu party. "One time it’s conversions and another time it’s the draft [of ultra-Orthodox men], and there are a few others on the way."

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The term of the current Knesset is set to end in November 2019.

Among the ministers themselves, there is disagreement over the election date and a number of other issues, which have led to contentious battles between them.

“This is not a homogeneous government where everybody thinks alike," said the minister. "I have great difficulty in facing my colleagues on certain issues, certainly on socioeconomic issues.”

He added that if he had remained in Likud, he would have run into opposition to many of his initiatives because of interest groups and arguments over leadership primaries within the party.

If the Knesset election is moved up, Kulanu “will not be in anyone’s pocket,” he said, and will not commit in advance to joining a Likud-led coalition. Still, because Kulanu is part of the rational, statesmanlike right, he ruled out any possibility of a partnership with the Zionist Union, which he said has “moved to far to the left.”