Kahlon's Kulanu Would Join Netanyahu Coalition Until Criminal Hearing, Minister Says

Meanwhile, Labor chairman Avi Gabbay calls on Benny Gantz to declare he won't sit in a government with Netanyahu

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Construction and Housing Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton in Tel Aviv, February 2019
Tomer Applebaum

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu party would join a coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite the attorney general's decision to indict him in three corruption probes pending a hearing, Construction and Housing Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton said on Saturday.

"We won't be joining the celebration and dancing in the prime minister's blood," Shasha-Biton said during a cultural event in Be'er Sheva. "Our position on the matter is clear and has been stated all along – there's nothing to discuss until after the hearing."

Beyond that, Shasha-Biton said she's sure Netanyahu would "make the right choice" following the hearing. This is the first time Kulanu addressed the matter since Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit issued his draft indictment against Netanyahu on Thursday.

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Last month, Kulanu chairman Kahlon said he would recommend Netanyahu form the coalition after the election. "I'm not a judge," said the minister. "Kulanu is only here to serve the public, and in the past week we've more than proven that."

As for joining a coalition led by former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz, Shasha-Biton said: "I don't know who Kahol Lavan are," referring to Gantz's joint slate with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, "What they're stances are and what they seek to do for the public. When their people are interviewed, one says 'day' and the other says 'night.'"

Kulanu doesn't rule out any Zionist party, said the minister, "but we won't be partners in a technical bloc that includes anti-Zionist parties that oppose the Zionist-Jewish essence of the State of Israel." She said that in the current reality, it seems like Kahol Lavan is incapable of forming a coalition without such a bloc, and that the current tie in the polls between the blocs is misleading.

Also Saturday, Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay said the upcoming election is "for Netanyahu's life against the life of the state." The prime minister is doing everything within his power to extricate himself from indictment, said Gabbay, adding that Netanyahu intends to pass a bill that would allow him to evade prosecution.

Gabbay called upon Gantz to declare he would not sit in a government with Netanyahu, "because his way is different than our way. This is what he needs to say, and we haven't heard it."

Polls published on Friday by Channel 13 News and Israeli public broadcaster Kan signaled a reversal in the blocs ahead of the election: 61 seats for the center-left, as opposed to the right's 59.

This is the first time since election was announced that poll results showed such a shift.