There Is No Baby, Kahlon. Throw Out the Bathwater and Leave the Coalition

The Kulanu leader must not allow his party to serve as a life preserver for the most right-wing and dangerous government that Israel has ever had.

Finance minister and Kulanu party chairman Moshe Kahlon with Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Lieberman in the Knesset, Nov. 16, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

While Avi Gabbay, who helped found Kulanu, resigns from the government over its unbridled extremism, and while Education Minister Naftali Bennett threatens to dissolve the government over an issue of principle like the appointment of a military secretary to the security cabinet, Moshe Kahlon is sticking to his chair.

The Finance Minister and head of Kulanu was to have been a fulcrum in the government and, by his own description, a sane and moderate voice in it. Instead, he is forcing the members of the Kulanu faction to bandy about empty slogans about efforts “from within” to safeguard the crumbling dignity of the state of Israel.

Kahlon should listen to the statements of his friend and fellow Kulanu member Gabbay who, upon resigning as environmental affairs minister, said: “It was no simple thing for me to be part of the government that disrupted ties with the most powerful country in the world. It was difficult for me to see the schism among the people and the assault on our army. I always brought myself back to my point of departure, the social [agenda], and continued and then came the pill I could not swallow: The dismissal of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the appointment of Lieberman as defense ministerThe rifts in the nation have become more extreme. The public wants a right-wing government, but it is not the right thing for the state to establish extremist governments.”

Kahlon, as a member of the government, has managed to stop anti-democratic legislation, such as the nation-state bill and a bill allowing the Knesset to enact a law for a limited period that contradicts an existing law. On the other hand, he allowed other proposed laws to advance, such as the NGO bill, which is intended to damage human rights groups, as well as a bill to allow sitting MKs to be ousted, the purpose of which was to intimidate Arab Knesset members.

Kahlon may prefer to focus on the struggle against the high cost of living so as to ensure himself another electoral achievement, but he must not ignore the danger that Israeli democracy faces.

Last week in a meeting in New York with Jewish leaders, Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Galant (Kulanu), who is a member of the security cabinet, warned of the danger of a binational state and of the essential need for diplomatic action. The Kulanu party, which carries the message of moderation, must not serve as a life preserver for the most right-wing and dangerous government that Israel has ever had.

Lieberman’s appointment, which marked a new record of political cynicism on the part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is another manifestation of his crumbling values on the one hand, and his surrender to the settlers and the extreme right on the other.

The Netanyahu government shows no sign of taking diplomatic steps, and the policy of most of its members is to expand the settlements on the way to a binational state, which endangers the democracy and the Jewish majority of Israel. The time has come for Moshe Kahlon to end his moral indifference. The time has come for him to leave the government.