Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed on Wednesday reports that minister Moshe Cachlon was considering forming his own party and running in the next election.
“He explicitly told me that he is staying with the Likud. He also said it to the public explicitly, and I believe he will remain in the Likud," Netanyahu said at a press conference after his meeting in Paris with French President Francois Hollande.
Cachlon, who is probably Likud's most popular minister, recently announced he would be taking a break from politics but said he would continue to support the Likud. It is believed that he has had a falling out with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who does not want to give him the post of Finance Minister. Cachlon served as Communications Minister and was also given the position of Welfare Minister after the Labor party quit the coalition following the split in the party in January of 2011.
A poll carried out by the Smith Institute and released Tuesday predicted that a party headed by Cachlon would receive 20 Knesset seats, versus 32 for the Likud/Yisrael Beytenu list.
The poll also found that if former Kadima chair Tzipi Livni joins Cachlon and runs as his number two, the party would receive 27 seats, while Likud Beytenu would receive only 30 seats.
Likud has dismissed the poll as "a media bubble".
Some pundits speculate that Cachlon is motivated by vengeance and wants to damage Netanyahu politically. Others say he is simply engaged in a show of strength and would return to Likud if he is offered the position he desires.