Is former Interior Minister Eli Yishai about to make a political comeback?
According to a report by Yisrael Hayom, Yishai is planning a return to the Knesset – but not as part of his Yachad - Ha'am Itanu party.
Yishai, who led the Shas party from 2000 to 2013, bolted ahead of the 2015 Knesset election to form Yachad amid a high-profile feud with Shas leader and political nemesis Aryeh Deri. Former Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun joined the party, and right-wing activist and one-time parliamentary aide to MK Rabbi Meir Kahane (Kach), Baruch Marzel, also ran on the same list for the Otzma Yehudit party.
The party narrowly missed the 3.25% minimum threshold, and Yishai found himself outside of the Knesset for the first time since 1996.
Despite an investigation underway into the personal finances of Yishai’s rival and current Shas chief Aryeh Deri, which some speculate could end Deri’s political career, Yishai is reportedly looking elsewhere for a pathway back to the Knesset.
According to a report on Sunday in Yisrael Hayom, Yishai is in the midst of negotiations with Finance Minister and Kulanu party founder Moshe Kahlon.
While both have denied reports of a joint run, Yishai has reportedly been offered the second spot in the party list.
A joint Kahlon-Yishai ticket would present some ideological obstacles, given Kahlon’s liberal views on gay marriage and public transportation on Shabbat. But given recent polling showing Kulanu losing roughly a third of its support, Kahlon may be willing to embrace a greater diversity of opinion to widen his party’s appeal.
Yishai and Kahlon do, however, agree on many economic and social policies, and the former Likudnik Kahlon's views on security issues are also right-of-center - though the Kulanu party is focused primarily on the former issues.