Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon announced on Monday that he won’t be running as a candidate for the Likud party in the upcoming March election, effectively lowering the curtain on the nearly 15-year political career of the socioeconomic-minded, right-wing lawmaker.
“He is not going to be a member of Knesset … or hold any political office. He wants to be with his family and grandchildren,” Kahlon’s spokesman told Reuters.
However, Kahlon will stay on as finance minister until his successor is named. This is not expected to occur until after a government is formed, which may not happen until May or June.
Kahlon, 59, told Hebrew media outlets that he had made his decision to retire last week and subsequently notified Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The premier sought to change Kahlon’s mind, but the finance minister said he felt satisfied with the work he had accomplished during his last five years running Israel’s treasury and was ready to step down.
Kahlon began his Knesset career in 2003 as a lawmaker for Likud, passing popular reforms as communications minister before leaving the party and taking a break from politics in 2013 amid rumors of tensions with Netanyahu.
He founded Kulanu in 2015, becoming the most senior partner in the government with 10 seats. In September, he ran on a joint ticket with Netanyahu’s Likud after his party lost more than half of its support in the April vote, winning just four Knesset seats.
He has served as finance minister since 2015.
Reports last year said that Kahlon was looking to quit politics, telling his associates he no longer felt challenged. Kahlon denied the reports at the time.
Israel has had a transitional government since December 2018, when the Knesset voted to dissolve and go to early elections. A third round of elections will be held March 2, after the previous two failed to result in a government, a first in Israeli history.