Ex-Likud minister to start new party to fight high prices

Moshe Kahlon says cost-of-living issues can be solved if the government has the willpower

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Moshe Kahlon (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon announced Monday that he will start a new political party focused on reducing the cost of living in Israel.

“My friends and I intend to create a new political framework that will truly deal with the issues… and which are close to many people,” Kahlon said at a Tel Aviv business conference. “It will be, God willing, when there are elections.”

He said that high prices “are not blind fate, nor decreed from on high. This is something that can be dealt with if the government of Israel decides to. If the government were to tell the big food companies, ‘You have a half-year to get ready, I am going to open up the market,’ all the monopolies need to know that the party will end and that it is impossible to continue like this forever. Only then will we find reasonable, normal prices.”

Kahlon previously served as welfare minister, and as communications minister has been credited with introducing more competition to the cellular communications market, bringing about a sharp reduction in the prices of cellular service packages.

Before the Knesset elections of January 2013, he announced that he would be taking a break from politics, sparking persistent reports that he was set to start his own party.

The burgeoning cost of living has been a hot topic in Israel for years, culminating in the massive protests in 2011 that saw hundreds of thousands camp out in city streets throughout the country, demanding that the government take action to make things such as food and housing more affordable. Many who emigrate from Israel point to the cost of living as a key factor in their decision.

Israelis who have moved to Berlin have been in the news recently, claiming that it was too hard to make ends meet in Israel.

A July Knesset Channel poll showed a theoretical Kahlon party garnering six seats if elections were held then, while more recent polls have shown him hovering around as many as 10 Knesset seats.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

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