Israeli Finance Minister and Kulanu Chief: My Political Party Will Run Independent in Israel's Next Election

Moshe Kahlon says party to remain independent, stresses he will not participate in any attempt to form an alternative government during this Knesset

Israeli Finance Minister and Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon, March 2017.
Ofer Vaknin

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, said Monday that Kulanu, the party he heads, will run in the next election as an independent entity under his leadership and that he will not participate in attempts to create an alternative government in the current Knesset. In an interview with Channel 10, Kahlon avoided answering the question of whether he expects an election to take place soon.

Asked about his attitude toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kahlon replied: “I do not give grades to the prime minister, he was elected, he is there, and you have to respect him as prime minister.”

Referring to opposition leader Isaac Herzog (prior to the Labor Party leadership primary on Tuesday), the treasury minister said, “I very much wanted him to enter the coalition. I am a fan of broad consensus, but at the moment there is a functioning government.” Asked why he would not speak out about the police investigations involving Netanyahu, Kahlon answered: “I am not the national educator.”

On the subject of the controversial conversion bill – legislation that would prohibit any private non-Orthodox conversions, which was discussed last week but has since been shelved – Kahlon claimed that he was misled: He had thought that the law concerned asylum seekers and migrant workers.

“They presented us with the idea that all sorts of groups would arrive here from Eritrea and all kinds of places,” he said. “I do not want to use the word ‘lied,’ but [Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali] Bennett, [Yisrael Beiteinu leader] Lieberman and I understood things differently. The moment we realized that it [the legislation] was not what was actually presented to us, we stopped it.”

The Kulanu chairman added that his party would support a law that demands a majority of 80 Knesset members as a condition for any concessions concerning the status of Jerusalem: “Any law that strengthens Jerusalem’s status – Kulanu will stand as a bloc, in order to pass it. If this is the condition [for a two-state solution], to divide Jerusalem, then I remain with Jerusalem.”

In the interview, Kahlon also expressed his opposition to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s intention to abolish the seniority system in the Supreme Court, and called for the appointment of veteran Justice Esther Hayut as its president.