Kahlon Slams PM: 'Diplomatic Siege' Isn't Doing Israel Any Good

Former minister says he belongs to 'real Likud' that knows how to make peace, but does not rule out cooperating with Netanyahu in future government.

Rami Shalosh

Former Minister of Communications Moshe Kahlon, who announced in October that he would head a new party in an election bid, attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of Israeli diplomacy, at a talk he held Friday at a Tel Aviv bar. "This diplomatic siege isn't doing us any good," he said.

"I am a former member of the Likud, a real Likud that knows how to achieve peace, that knows how to give up land. A conservative and responsible Likud. My worldview is that of the real Likud, which came and protected the land of Israel. When the time came to make peace with the greatest of Arab nations it did so, and when it was time to talk it talked. I and my friends will not miss an opportunity to make peace. I think that something needs to be done for that," he said.

Kahlon was received very warmly at the jam-packed bar. He didn't provide any surprising political headlines and mostly reiterated that his main political objective was reducing the cost of living in Israel. Answering a question from the crowd Kahlon said that there was no political party he would not work with after the elections – including Netanyahu and the center-left parties. "Would you join in with 'Bibi' (Netanyahu)?" a member of the audience asked. "I will join anyone who will make my agenda – our agenda – possible," he said.

Kahlon touted the reform he instated in the cellular communication market while he was minister and promised to take similar actions to lower prices in other markets. "It can be done in every field. It's the same thing. The same with banking, the same with housing, the same with cheese, canned goods, pasta, cereal, and diapers."

"He who is now laughing now should know that the day will come when he stops laughing," he continued. "Monopolies, cartels, conglomerates, exploiting groups should know that this day will come. This day will come. This day must come, because we cannot go on – 50 percent of Israelis earn less than 5,600 shekels ($1405). Does that sound reasonable to you? And you see all kinds of people with vast sums. I, in my worldview, think that if you studied, got ahead, developed, you will receive a salary. Earn 70, 80, 100 thousand shekels. I'm not opposed to that. I am for people running ahead and moving the economy forward. Profit yes, but piggishness, no," Kahlon said and received an enthusiastic applause.

The former minister, who garnered public popularity by revolutionizing cellular phone pricing as communications minister, created a political stir when he declined to participate in the Likud list in the 2013 elections.