Take the Government to Task Kahlon, Withdraw Your MKs From the Coalition

The Kulanu Chair and finance minister sits at the left of a fanatical settler government and even condemns the dangerous actions of government members, so why does he remain a willing participant?

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, March 30, 2016.
Ofer Vaknin

Before Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon founded his Kulanu party in 2014, he was a Likud MK in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The premier even presented him to his colleagues as an example to be emulated, urging them to “be Kahlons.” But Kahlon had had enough of Netanyahu’s rule and preferred to run independently in the political “center.”

After last year’s election, he helped that same Netanyahu return to rule as head of a narrow coalition (61 MKs against 59 opposition MKs). Kahlon knew how fragile this arrangement was, but he accepted the government’s guidelines and its right wing, religious, ultra-Orthodox makeup – which ostensibly places him on its left flank. Kahlon was appointed finance minister, and then discovered that his life was not worth living without Knesset approval of the budget.

Kahlon reconciled himself to the situation for a whole year. But this week, at the Israel Bar Association conference in Eilat, he argued that the government must expand and take in the center-left Zionist Union party.

Kahlon also harshly criticized Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who at the same conference came out against the Supreme Court. “I do not support Ayelet Shaked’s remarks, I reject these attacks. These words are unacceptable,” he noted. Later, Kahlon added, “If [the Supreme Court] decides to do something, it must be respected. You can’t say that the Supreme Court damages the Israeli economy.”

Beyond the fact that his proposal to bring Zionist Union into the government is not practical considering the current police investigation into its chairman, MK Isaac Herzog, there is also no real value to such a move.

This coalition contains a justice minister who harms the independence of the justice system; an education minister who does damage to public education; and a Knesset member who shamelessly comes out in support of the separation of Jewish and Arab new mothers in maternity wards. There is no place for a party that seeks to strengthen the statesmanship and democratic nature of Israel in such a coalition.

The government of which Kahlon is a member – and in fact is making that government’s existence possible through his 10-member faction – is an extremist, fanatical settler government, one that deepens the divides both within Israeli society and between Israel and the world.

If Kahlon really cares for the good of Israeli society, he must resign from this failing government, not try to resuscitate it.