Moshe Kahlon announced on Monday that he hopes to stay on as finance minister in the next government in order to lower taxes and tackle a rising deficit.
Addressing reporters at a press conference in Jerusalem, the former Kulanu party head, who is now a member of Likud, stated that he intended “to continue in politics and be the finance minister. That is the position that I desire.”
Kahlon declined to state categorically if he would continue in politics if he was not allowed to continue in the position. Earlier this month, Haaretz reported that he was planning on quitting politics after last Tuesday’s election, having told his associates he no longer feels challenged. The Hebrew daily quoted two sources as saying Kahlon had looked “finished, exhausted and lacking motivation.”
Kahlon cut his teeth as a Likud politician, passing popular reforms as communications minister before leaving the party and taking a break from politics amid rumors of tensions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He founded Kulanu in 2015, becoming the most senior partner in the Netanyahu-led government with 10 seats. Last week, 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.
During Monday’s press conference, Kahlon said that a third election, in the event that coalition negotiations break down for a second time this year, would be a disaster for Israel. He said that the country’s economic system has not worked properly since Netanyahu dispersed the Knesset last December and that it was important to take steps “to prevent the economy from deteriorating because of the political situation.”
“We have reduced taxes by tens of billions of shekels in my four years here, and the economy has grown nicely,” he said.
“I hope that a government will be formed as soon as possible so that the economic system and other systems can fully function,” he continued, noting that the 2020 budget will not be ready on time because of the political situation and that an interim budget will be needed in the meantime.
“We have challenges in healthcare, education, welfare, security, deficit reduction and continued growth — challenges that are not simple,” he declared. “For this we need the government, the Knesset, the Finance Committee. The security, social and healthcare challenges are not waiting for the politicians — they continue on their own.”
Describing 2019’s Knesset campaigns as a “civil war,” Kahlon called on Israelis to “calm down,” stating that while the elections are over, “no one knows who won but Israeli society lost.”