It was not immediately clear what led to Kahlon's decision. As late as Saturday night Kahlon sounded determined to win the top spot on the Likud ticket, and was involved alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netnyahu and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz in gearing towards Wednesday's Likud Central Committee meeting.
- Cabinet approves Jan. 22 elections date
Kadima primary elections cancelled
Kahlon seeks end to high cable rates
He made his announcement in a press conference but refused to take questions from reporters.
Kahlon with Netanyahu (Photo: Tal Shahar)
According to several sources, the minister told Likud activists that he is taking a two-year hiatus from public life, and that his decision is not connected to any government roles promised by Netanyahu.
Kahlon made the decision over two weeks ago and was set to announce it after Wednesday's meeting. Leaked reports about his possible retirement scrapped that plan.
Kahlon was first elected for the 16th Knesset, and was ranked first on the Likud list in the elections for the 17th Knesset. He was sixth on the list in the last elections.
In March 2009, after Netanyahu assumed the role or prime minister for a second time, Kahlon was appointed as communications minister, and as such he instigated widespread reform in the cell phone service industry. His efforts facilitated the introduction of several new service providers, a step that led to a significant reduction in service prices. In January 2011 he was named social affairs minister as well.
This past July, he was the only Likud minister to oppose a series of budget cuts approved by the government. He decided to vote against the financial measures because they failed to include provisions for the elderly, the disabled and welfare recipients.
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop