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Kulanu to merge with Likud

The Kulanu party has agreed to merge with Likud and cease being an independent party, according to Israeli media reports.

As part of the deal Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon will become Finance Minister and his list will be granted one more ministerial post. The merger would mean that Kahlon would not leave the coalition if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to be indicted because he would part of the Likud and not the head of a separate party. Kahlon previously said his party would not stay in a government with a prime minister under indictment. A senior political source told Ynet: “This wedding is inevitable.”

Labour leader Avi Gabbay rejected calls for him to resign last night, insisting that he would be sworn in as an MK in the new Knesset and would continue to serve the public from the opposition. Rumours were circulating that both Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir would compete for the leadership of the party with Amir Peretz as temporary leader if Gabbay were to resign. Tal Russo, number two on the Labour list, was reportedly considering not taking up his Knesset seat if Gabbay were to remain as the party’s leader. Gabbay said that he would consult with his party MKs on next steps for Labour, including holding primaries.

Arab party Hadash-Taal and Meretz are demanding that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit investigate the use of secret cameras by Likud activists at polling stations in Arab towns. Meretz MK Michal Rozin said: “The Likud tried to deter voters in Arab society from realising their democratic right, to the point of threatening them. This is grave, to the point of breaking the law and undermining the fundamental values of the State of Israel as a democratic state.”

Saeb Erekat said the election results show: “Israelis have voted to preserve the status quo. They have said no to peace and yes to the occupation. They want us to live under a deeper apartheid system than that existed in the darkest hours of South African apartheid.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said Israelis had: “Overwhelmingly voted for candidates that are unequivocally committed to entrenching the status quo of oppression, occupation, annexation and dispossession in Palestine”.