The ruling Likud party could hold on to one of its most popular ministers, who is reportedly considering breaking away, if it offers him the position of finance minister, a Knesset member from the party said Friday.
Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon has been at the center of a political storm since news broke earlier this week that he was considering starting his own party.
Speaking to Army Radio, MK Carmel Shama-HaCohen, considered close to Kahlon, said the party knew what it had to do to hold on to the minister who, polls show, may prove a strong political rival.
“The solution is already on the table,” he said. “Propose Kahlon for finance minister.”
Kahlon, one of the Likud’s most popular politicians, announced last month that he was leaving politics, though he said he would remain a devoted Likud member.
On Wednesday, a poll showed Kahlon could garner 20 seats if he started his own party, leading to speculation that the social-minded politician would indeed look to break away.
A poll published on Friday by Yedioth Ahronoth showed a Kahlon-led party getting 13 Knesset seats, significantly weakening the Likud-Beytenu political alliance, which would drop from a current 42 seats to 30.
The poll also showed Kadima, the centrist party whose 28 seats are currently the most in the Knesset, will not get enough votes in January for even a single seat in the next Knesset, a precipitous drop for a faction that only three years ago headed the ruling coalition.
As communications minister, Kahlon championed a reform to the telecom industry that opened up the market and led to significantly cheaper cell phone price plans. Reports indicate that his political platform would be based on like-minded socioeconomic reforms aimed at helping the poor and middle classes.
Labor, which is also running on a socioeconomic platform, would get 22 seats in that scenario and newcomer Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party would get 12 seats.
Should Kahlon not run, the poll showed Likud-Beytenu getting enough votes for 35 seats, Labor with 24 and Yesh Atid with 15. According to the survey, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party would get 13 seats in either scenario.
A poll released on Thursday by the Geocartography research institute showed a Kahlon-led party winning 10 seats in January’s elections. A poll for a Channel 2 current-affairs program on Thursday night also predicted 13 seats.
Israeli daily Maariv reported on Friday that informal Netanyahu adviser Natan Eshel, who is close to Kahlon, is attempting to set up a meeting between the prime minister and Kahlon to convince him to stay within the Likud fold. The paper gave no source for the report, which Eshel denied.
The paper also reported that Kahlon told Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin on Thursday night that he had still not made up his mind on whether to run.
A decision is expected on Sunday, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.