Israel Prize Winner Eli Elaluf Joins Kulanu

Eli Elaluf, a social activist who served on the Knesset Committee for Combating Poverty, announced Thursday he is joining Kulanu.

Cynthia Blank ,

Eli Elaluf
Eli Elaluf
Flash 90/ Miriam Alster

Prestigious Israel Prize winner Eli Elaluf announced Thursday that he is joining Kulanu, headed by former Likud minister Moshe Kahlon. 

Elaluf, 69, who won the Israel Prize in 2011 for his special contributions to Israeli society and the State, served as the head of the most recent Knesset Committee for Combating Poverty. 

The conclusions of that committee were not implemented into the Knesset's 2015 budget plan.

Elaluf is also well known for his actions as former head of the Rashi Foundation. The independent and private foundation is dedicated to assisting the underprivileged, particularly children and youth, in the geographic and social periphery of Israel. 

"When I met Kahlon (when he was serving as Minister of Social Affairs), it was love at first sight," Elaluf said at a press conference with Kahlon in Be'er Sheva Thursday morning. "I saw then that he was swimming in unchartered territory." 

"Thank you Moshe for agreeing to let me join the campaign. I am happy and proud to be your soldier, and I am, first and foremost, a soldier of our society." 

Kahlon said he hoped the inclusion of a social activist like Alaluf will help in the fight against poverty. 

"We were given the illustrious rank of the third highest poverty rate among developed countries," Kahlon said. "I have no doubt that if we act properly, with even the most minimal sensitivity to disadvantaged and the needs of the middle class, we will move to a much more respectable position." 

Kahlon admitted that he had to perform quite a feat in persuading Elaluf to join politics. 

"It was not east to mobilize Eli after so many years - I came to his house and said to him 'Eli, you cannot waste your experience, knowledge, and rare ability. Your type should not be sitting at home.'" 

According to Kahlon, "A lot of children, young people, and parents in the lower and middle class owe you a thank you. I have no doubt your joining will lead to a future of reduced societal and economic gaps." 

The addition of Elaluf represents the second major victory Kahlon has scored for his party. 

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren also announced Wednesday night that he is joining Kulanu. 

Kahlon courted Oren, he said, because of his “responsible political positions, which are an important strategic objective for Israel.”