Kahlon says he could support Gantz-led coalition ‘if it’s not leftist’

Finance minister, in TV interview, softens stance on only supporting a government led by Netanyahu

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting of his Kulanu party at the Knesset on March 5, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon leads a faction meeting of his Kulanu party at the Knesset on March 5, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said Wednesday that he did not rule out supporting a future government led by Benny Gantz, after previously committing to join a right-wing coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“If if turns out that Benny Gantz is not a man of the left, and is a man of the national camp, and appropriate to my positions, I’ll sit with him in a government,” he said.

Kahlon said he would first examine the policies of a prospective administration led by Gantz and his Israel Resilience party, but the remarks indicated a softening of a previous commitment to join only a Netanyahu-led government, assuming he manages to lead his Kulanu party back into the Knesset, after elections on April 9.

Kulanu is currently polling just above the electoral threshold for a minimum of four Knesset seats. The full interview with Kahlon will be aired on Channel 12’s Friday night news.

“If Benny Gantz presents a left-wing government, or a government that endangers the State of Israel, or will divide Jerusalem, I won’t be (with him),” Kahlon stressed.

“I am a member of the nationalist camp… I prefer the nationalist camp. I have not heard what he (Gantz) has to say, first he needs to win (Knesset) seats,” the finance minister added.

Benny Gantz, head of the Israel Resilience party, 2nd left, with Telem party chairman Moshe Ya’alon, 3rd right, and other Israel Resilience party members, during a event to present election candidates held in Tel Aviv, February 19, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A Kulanu statement later clarified that the party would only join a right-wing coalition.

Kahlon said last week at a conference organized by the right-wing “Besheva” newspaper that he would support Netanyahu’s bid to form a new government after elections, suggesting that Gantz was “not in the same league” as the incumbent prime minister.

Asked at the conference if he would recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz be tasked with putting together the next government after elections, Kahlon said he did not believe the former IDF chief would receive enough votes to even be considered for the role.

When asked whether he would recommend to Rivlin that Netanyahu form the next government, Kahlon said that he would back the Likud leader “if he has a majority” — a bloc of parties with over 60 seats.

“And if he doesn’t have a majority, we’ll give him a majority,” he added, suggesting that Kulanu would be a natural coalition partner for Likud.

“We worked well together, I don’t see why we shouldn’t continue working together,” he said. “Our bloc is very strong.”

Kahlon was a member of Likud, but took a break from politics in 2012 and returned in 2014, when he formed his Kulanu party focusing on social and economic issues. H has been a member of Netanyahu’s coalition since then as finance minister.

Most Popular
read more: