Kulanu Chairman Moshe Kahlon has refused to meet with either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or Labor leader Yitzhak Herzog, Channel Two reported Thursday.
Netanyahu and Herzog are the two most likely candidates to form the next government for the 20th Knesset. Kahlon's centrist party is a desired pick to be part of the coalition for either opposing faction.
But the Kulanu chairman declined to meet with either of the two this week, the party said in a statement Thursday morning.
In late January, Netanyahu reportedly offered Kahlon the position of Finance Minister – his desired role – if Likud and Kulanu were to run together on a joint list.
However Kahlon, who served as Communications Minister under Netanyahu's Likud party before retiring from politics in 2013, refused his former chairman outright.
"I did not return to politics to return to the Likud. I did not return to be part of a party who leader who folded the social flag at the expense of his constituents – who is afraid to fight monopolies and powerful groups that prevent young couples from buying an apartment at a sane price, all while they suffocate from bank fees and food prices," he wrote on Facebook at the time.
Likud, for its part, squarely denied the claims and said, instead, that it was Kahlon who had approached them about a deal.
While, Kahlon reportedly hinted several weeks ago that he would prefer Herzog over Netanyahu, who he has been increasingly critical of since leaving Likud, he remained diplomatic on the issue in an Army Radio interview two weeks ago.
"I'll sit in any government, obviously with normal and reasonable guidelines, though," he said, adding that he would only join a coalition that allowed him to fight the banks and the high cost of living in Israel.
"For the sake of [the country] I will sit with Buji [Herzog], I will sit with Bibi [Netanyahu]," Kahlon stressed.