Elections 2015

Kahlon: Government has failed, should ‘clear the way’

Kulanu leader attacks Jewish Home’s Bennett as ‘outlandish’; former Likud minister Meridor says he won’t vote for the party

Itamar Sharon is a news editor at The Times of Israel

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

Kulanu party leader Moshe Kahlon, whose allegiances following Tuesday’s general election could be pivotal in determining who will form the next government, said Friday that the Likud-led government had failed and should “clear the way”. He also upbraided Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett for suggesting he was leaning leftward, calling him “outlandish.”

During a campaign stop in the city of Hadera, the former Likud minister said he had been under attack from the right and the left in recent days by rivals attempting to draw voters away from him.

He said he wanted to “make it absolutely clear” that he was a man of “the national camp” — a term right-wingers have appropriated for themselves — but also of the “social camp.”

The elections, he said, were not about left or right but about “putting people front and center.”

The Likud-led government, Kahlon said, had failed to do so and should therefore “clear the way”, claiming Israel was facing an economic catastrophe that must be prevented.

Asked about Bennett’s accusations that he was moving leftward and eyeing a government led by Zionist Union chief Isaac Herzog, Kahlon did not mince words.

“I would like to inform you Mr. Bennett, just because I’m not as outlandish as you are, and I’m not a member of the Hilltop Youth (a reference to far right-wingers), doesn’t mean I’m not a man of the National Camp,” he said.

Meanwhile, former Likud minister Dan Meridor told Yedioth Ahronoth Friday that he would not be voting for his party in the coming election.

Meridor said he had not yet decided who to vote for but that he would not support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he said had failed on the diplomatic front and in combating anti-Democratic trends.

“We have deviated from the right path,” he told the paper. “If we don’t change direction, we’re going to hit an iceberg.”

Dan Meridor speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem (photo credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP)
Dan Meridor speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem (photo credit: Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

The last polls have Netanyahu’s Likud trailing behind Herzog’s Zionist Union at around 3-4 seats. Despite this, the prime minister is seen as having a better chance of forming a coalition than Herzog.

Following the election President Reuven Rivlin will choose the candidate that he believes has the best chance of forming a government and task him with doing so. Rivlin’s decision will also hinge on the recommendations of the various party leaders.

Netanyahu acknowledged Thursday that “there’s a real danger” he would be ousted as prime minister.

If his Likud party “can’t close the gap in the polls in the next few days,” he told Channel 2 news, “there’s certainly a danger that Tzipi Livni and Herzog will be prime minister,” he added. Still, he said, he didn’t regret calling the elections, “because the [previous] government couldn’t function any more.”

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