Israeli market reformer launches wild-card election bid

January 15th, 2015  
News Manager

Topic: Israeli market reformer launches wild-card election bid

By Allyn Fisher-Ilan JERUSALEM (Reuters) - An ex-Israeli cabinet minister known for spurring market reform launched a new party on Thursday to run in the March 17 election, a wild-card bid seen as potentially helping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu return to power. Moshe Kahlon, 54, the son of hardscrabble Libyan immigrants, hopes to revitalise his political career based on the popularity he enjoyed as a communications minister who promoted competition and thereby slashed mobile telephone prices. Kahlon is closer to Netanyahu on security issues -- they both blame Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for the breakdown in peace diplomacy last year -- and calls himself a "Likudnik" in speeches, hinting at how he and Netanyahu could easily partner in any future coalition government. Polls forecast Kahlon's party winning between nine and 12 seats on March 17, enough to put it in a kingmaker position to decide whether Netanyahu wins a fourth term against liberal Labour party leader Isaac Herzog.