Popular Likud Minister Moshe Kahlon is reportedly considering leading a new social-justice oriented party, which polls indicate could win as many as 20 Knesset seats.
Kahlon, who is the outgoing Communications Minister is considered a champion of socio-economic reform and is a popular figure in the Likud Party. Two weeks ago he surprisingly announced that he would be taking a break from politics. Several senior Likud ministers called on him to reconsider and most recently, he presided over Monday’s Likud Central Committee meeting.
However, reports in most Israeli dailies this morning indicate that Kahlon is considering forming his own party, prompted by the deal which will see Likud and Yisrael Beitenu run on a joint ticket. Apparently Kahlon disapproves of the agreement and has begun researching the possibility of forming his own party, which would primarily further a social-justice agenda. An initial poll commissioned by Kahlon’s associates reportedly revealed that his potential party would win 20 seats. The poll indicated that this number would increase to 27 if Kahlon joined forces with former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni. A second poll has been commissioned for today. Haaretz claims that a separate survey indicated that if Kahlon joined the Labour Party, it would win 32 seats.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented bluntly, “Kahlon clearly said to me he’s staying in Likud, and told the public that he’s staying in Likud, so I believe he will stay.”
Meanwhile, former-prime minister Ehud Olmert and former-foreign minister Tzipi Livni held further talks yesterday on the possibility of joining forces for the upcoming elections. The pair came to no decision but agreed to continue discussions. A statement for Livni said that the two “must work to change the government,” while an Olmert spokesman said that the meeting was held in a “positive atmosphere.” Olmert is thought to be planning to announce his plans after returning from a trip abroad on 15 November, although Livni could make a decision earlier.