Kahlon Cautions Kabosh on Coalition Cost

YERUSHALAYIM -
Head of the Kulanu party and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.. (Flash90)

The high cost of satisfying the demands of coalition partners might come at the price of losing Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party.

“He doesn’t want to be finance minister if there are commitments that he can’t keep,” a source told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “Kulanu won’t join the coalition until the other [parties] do and we can see what is in their agreements.”

Kahlon reportedly would balk at agreements that would force him to impose tax increases to cover more spending. Several months ago, the Finance Ministry disclosed a large gap in the fiscal deficit, which reached 3.5 percent of the GDP as of February 2019, far exceeding the government’s target of 2.9 percent.

If Kahlon decides not to join the coalition, taking his four MKs with him, that would leave Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu with 61, the barest majority, with which to form a government.

Meanwhile, Likud negotiators have been trying to negotiate downwards budgetary demands from the chareidi parties for yeshivos and health care, and the Union of Right-wing Parties (URP) asking for greater funding for communities in Yehudah and Shomron and religious-Zionist education.

At the same time, the Likud team continues to seek a way out of the stalemate between Yisrael Beytenu and the chareidi parties on the issues of religion and state.

Mr. Netanyahu said on Sunday that he will ask President Reuven Rivlin for a 14-day extension to complete the talks to form his government.