With Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party in the political doldrums, Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing the possibility of bringing the treasury back under the purview of his ruling Likud party, according to a report Monday night.
Netanyahu is currently considered the favorite to form the next government following the April 9 election, with the Knesset’s right-wing bloc leading the center-left in several recent polls.
Meanwhile the moderate right-wing Kulanu, which currently holds 10 seats in the legislature, is projected to win around half of that, if not less, in the vote. The main plank of Kahlon’s platform has been his effort to lower the cost of living for the middle class, and he therefore insisted on receiving the finance portfolio following the 2015 election.
But with Kulanu set to lose much of its bargaining power in the upcoming election, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu is considering appointing either himself or former Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat to the post.
Earlier Monday the prime minister said he was looking into the possibility of legalizing cannabis, in an apparent reaction to the surge in polls of a rival right-wing candidate who has made the issue one of his flagship planks.
Asked on the “Likud TV” Facebook stream for his opinion on legalizing marijuana use, Netanyahu said he was “looking into it and will have an answer soon.”
Israel has taken steps in recent years to make medical cannabis available and is poised to become a major exporter of the crop. Recreational use of the drug remains illegal, though politicians recently said they would consider relaxing enforcement.
Netanyahu’s statement came after a recent increase in support for the pro-cannabis and quasi-libertarian Zehut party, led by firebrand and former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin.
Feiglin famously sparred with Netanyahu for years from inside Likud before leaving the party in 2015.