Minister Moshe Kahlon will decide whether to form a new party and run in January’s Knesset elections based on the results of a special poll ordered by his associates, Channel 2 News reported on Friday.
According to the report, the private poll found that a new party based on socially-oriented issues and led by Kahlon could achieve anywhere from 18 to 20 seats. Kahlon’s final decision is expected this weekend, and an official notification will be made on Sunday.
Eyal Ariel, Kahlon’s media adviser, told Channel 2 News on Friday, “The poll confirms what we thought: a social party led by Kahlon will be very powerful. The results clearly showed that he can certainly form a new party and now it’s up to him."
Ariel said that he spoke with Kahlon after he received the flattering poll results, but stressed that Kahlon has not yet made a final decision.
"He's struggling," explained Ariel. "This step will not be an easy one for him to make. I spoke to him this morning and we will continue to meet to discuss the issue, but I have no ability to predict what ultimately decides."
However, Ariel stressed, the findings of the poll “have proven that there is room for a social party led by Kahlon. The Israeli public is signaling that it really appreciates him.”
Media reports over the past few days said that several polls had shown Kahlon getting anywhere from 20 to 35 seats. However, those polls were regarded as a spin by most professional pollsters, and no background information or methodology was published to justify them.
A poll conducted by the Geocartographia organization and presented on Kol Yisrael radio Thursday morning said that in the event that Kahlon runs, the joint Likud-Yisrael Beyetenu list would garner 43 seats in the next Knesset; without Kahlon in the race, the joint list would get 44 seats.
Kahlon is personally very popular among Israeli voters because of his efforts to lower the cost of basic services, such as cellphone service and cable and satellite TV. He was also behind a number of reforms in consumer laws, such as making it easier for Israelis to receive a cash refund when returning an item they are not happy with, instead of having to make do with a store credit.
A poll published Friday morning in the Yediot Acharonot newspaper gave Kahlon’s party 13 seats. Five of the seats would be at the expense of the Likud party, while Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (Futre) party would lose three seats and Labor would lose two.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu dismissed on Wednesday the reports about Kahlon, and told reporters during his visit to France that he believed Kahlon would remain in the Likud.
Nevertheless, Netanyahu had his envoy Natan Eshel meet Kahlon on Thursday night and discuss Kahlon’s plans.
Meanwhile, one of Kahlon’s closest friends, Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, suggested Friday morning that there is one solution that could bring the saga to an end.
Speaking on Army Radio, Shama-Hacohen said, “The solution is already on the table: Offer Kahlon the position of finance minister. I think there is no problem with him being promised that he will have that job. All that is needed is for the Prime Minister to convene a meeting with Kahlon and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and they can come out of the room united.”
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)