Kahlon says his party will back peace, but there’s ‘no partner’

Kulanu chairman blames Netanyahu, Lapid, and Bennett for economic woes, seeks finance minister’s job in next government

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 communications minister Moshe Kahlon said in a series of interviews Wednesday that his new Kulanu party would support a future peace deal with the Palestinians, but emphasized to Haaretz that “right now there is no partner and no one to talk to on the other side.”

Kahlon said his conditions for a peace accord were as follows: that all of Jerusalem, including the Arab neighborhoods in the east of the city, remain under Israeli control; that the large settlement blocs be annexed; and that Palestinian not be granted any right of return.

“Any agreement that will strengthen Israel — the Kulanu party will be there to support it,” he said.

In response to a question from Walla news reporters on whether he would back the dismantling of settlements, Kahlon repeated, “I will support anything that strengthens Israel’s security.”

Kahlon also said he would seek the Finance Ministry portfolio in the next government. “I will ask for the treasury,” he told Channel 10. With the Finance Ministry Kulanu “can deal with the housing crisis, the cost of living, the social and economic gaps in the State of Israel.”

In an interview with Walla news, Kahlon promised that his party would be in the next government, regardless of who wins the elections, as long as the new prime minister is willing to work with Kulanu on housing and social issues.

Speaking to the Ynet news outlet, the popular Kulanu chairman also criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and former finance minister Yair Lapid. “We are measured by results. We are not measured by words, or Facebook statuses, or headlines, or spin. End results. Is there 0% VAT? Did housing prices fall? Did social gaps narrow?…Everyone who sat in this government, including Bennett, is guilty of what is happening here today.”

Though Kahlon blamed Netanyahu, Lapid, and Bennett for Israel’s economic woes, he reserved particularly strong words for Likud, his former party: “In the last two years, the social issue has been ignored much more than it was in the past. I said that Likud was the only path for social issues, but the situation changed.”

He accused the Likud of moving in a new direction, and said that he represents the traditional path of the party.

Kahlon also termed Lapid’s run as finance minister “a huge squandered [opportunity].”

“Nineteen seats is huge, and offers a lot of power,” he said of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party. “He could have done many things, but unfortunately he squandered it. We will do it.”

Marissa Newman contributed to this report. 

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