Minister Moshe Kahlon has decided he will not form a new party ahead of the elections, despite favorable poll results indicating he could win 13-15 Knesset seats.
Kahlon, who was said to be considering the step, told politicians in closed talks earlier this week that the various polls pointing to his popularity are surprising and hopeful.
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Nevertheless, the outgoing minister told associates on Saturday that he will not embark on a political venture outside the Likud, saying he does not want to undercut the party.
"I was truly disappointed with (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's actions, but eventually decided against hurting the Likud," he said, according to the sources.
Kahlon and Netanyahu (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
In an official statement released later Saturday, Kahlon said he is "sticking" with his decision to take a break from politics. He said that he has considered the polls and the pressure put upon him to start a new movement, but they failed to change his mind.
Sources close to the politicians reported a growing rift between Kahlon and Netanyahu in recent days, with efforts to mediate between the two proving unsuccessful.
And yet in his statement, Kahlon said that the Likud is his "home," and urged the public to vote for the party and for Netanyahu.
'Kahlon festival over'
A source close to the prime minister said that the Likud is "glad that the Kahlon festival is over."
"Eventually he realized that forming a new party is more than he can handle," the source said.
The most recent poll, released by Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday, showed that a party headed by Kahlon would win 13 Knesset seats, costing
Kahlon announced he was quitting politics two weeks ago, but was later quoted by associates as saying that he is "ready to make the decision to form a party with a social agenda."
Catching wind of the news, many activists have volunteered to help the minister with his election campaign – a possibility that now appears to have been ruled out.
Itamar Eichner and Yuval Karni, who contributed to this report, are Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondents
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