Moshe Kachlon
Moshe KachlonFlash 90

The media has been full of reports about polls showing Labor or a new party that features outgoing Communications Minister Moshe Kachlon receiving between 20 and 35 Knesset seats in the upcoming elections. Much of that, say officials close to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, is media hype, prompted by the decision by Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to run a joint list in the January Knesset elections. But those officials add that there is definitely something to the rumors – and that Kachlon, for his own reasons, would be willing to throw a monkey wrench into the Netanyahu's campaign to remain Prime Minister.

“He is cheating the public with his attitude,” the officials said. “He is in charge of running the Likud Central Committee meetings, but he is working as a fifth column in the Likud and running his own campaign for the Knesset.”

Speaking to reporters, Kachlon said that he had no regrets over his recent decision to quit the government, and politics altogether. However, he did not deny reports that he was considering setting up his own party, and was “checking out the situation” to see if running on his own was a good idea. Sources close to Kachlon said that he could consider running on his own if polls consistently showed a party he led getting between 10 and 12 Knesset seats.

Kachlon is personally very popular 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. He is being encouraged to run by social activists who believe he could lead the way on further legislation to make life more affordable for Israelis.

Kachlon announced several weeks ago that he was leaving politics for the time being, but he swore fealty to Netanyahu, saying that the current government was “the most socially conscious in the past decade,” and that “the Likud's way is the true way,” adding that even though he was not running, he would help the Likud in its Knesset campaign.