Sputnik: Kulanu has agreed to a merger with Likud. What's the reason for this decision?
Akram Hasson*: Kulanu has agreed to a merger with Likud because we were Likud members in the past. Mr Moshe Kahlon, the head of my party, he was a Likud member for more than 25 years and he was a minister of communication. The Minister of Economy Eli Cohen was also a Likud member. I think it was normal to go back to the Likud party after the results of the election in April. We want to change things. We want a big party because the situation in Israel in the last year it was very hard to succeed in the election. We carried out a big change in Israeli society, but they gave us only four seats in the Knesset. For me and for my party it was very important to reunite with the Likud and I hope that it will win the election.
Sputnik: What benefits could this alliance bring to the party?
Akram Hasson: The benefits are that we are in a big party that we can change things and we can continue with our suggestions to change the situation in Israel, especially the economic situation. Because we were, as you know, a special party to support all citizens in Israel. I think it's time to change our ways in this case. The benefit from this is that we will be a big party with the Likud and we will be very close to the prime minister to take good decisions for all citizens, especially for poor people. Because we were a social party, we want to continue to support new social laws in Israel.
Sputnik: Is there a possibility that the results of the April election could be repeated this September? Do you expect a new government to be formed?
Akram Hasson: We're making a big effort to change the situation. This is a time now for us - through the Likud, with the help of Likud we will do big things. I think another reason is that we want to have a large number of Knesset members from Likud. We saw that the left side is trying to create problems for the prime minister, for the right-wing parties in Israel. I think it will be a big mistake because only the Likud with the right leaders like Moshe Kahlon and the orthodox, they can change the situation, especially the economic situation. Also the security situation with our neighbours - it gives us a possibility to take a big step.
Sputnik: Media outlets have cited unnamed politicians as saying that the emerging agreement is “a classic bribery deal” - how do you assess such a claim?
Akram Hasson: The media in Israel, they are not fair, they are acting against Bibi Netanyahu, they are against the right-wing parties in Israel. They will say that maybe we have a classic prepared deal. I think it's a big mistake, it's wrong, it will not help anybody. We were the best party in the Knesset, Kulanu, we carried out big changes for all Israeli citizens. So, in this case nobody can say Kulanu will make a dirty deal. We were members of the Likud - I was a Likud member for 22 years, the head of my party - for 25 years, the economy minister came from the Likud party. We were part of the Likud and it's normal to go back and try to help and to have more and more members in the Knesset, to have a good coalition and to continue supporting all the citizens in Israel.
Sputnik: What does the Druze community in Israel expect from this election? How will the attempt to transfer the Golan Heights to Israel and recent developments in the West Bank influence their position?
Akram Hasson: The Druze community is quite happy that we have the Golan Heights with us. We have four Druze villages there - nobody believes that this land will be back with Syria. We saw exactly what happened with the Syrian government and with all these fanatic groups. I think that there is a great difference between us and our neighbours that they don't have any human rights. Living in Israel is better than living in the Arab countries around us. We are happy that the government is taking care of the Golan Heights in this case. We accept from this election that Druze will be like any other good citizens in Israel and we will receive all our rights because it is our country. We also want to change the situation inside our villages - we need bigger budgets, we need to support our young people, our officers and really, to change the economic situation. The majority of our community lives on one salary, it's not enough in Israel. We need to take a big step together, Druze leaders and the government.
* Akram Hasson is an Israeli Druze politician, he previously served as an MK for Kadima between 2012 and 2013, becoming the last leader of the party in 2015, the first time a Druze had led a Jewish party.
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