Record six candidates to run in Israel presidential elections
All six presidential candidates who have received the backing of Knesset members will have enough endorsements to submit their candidacy to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein by Monday, a day before Tuesday’s deadline, sources close to the candidates said Sunday.
Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman and former Supreme Court judge Dalia Dorner will join former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik and MKs Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) and Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) in a record six-candidate field.
Shechtman received endorsements over the weekend from Science, Technology and Space Minister Yaakov Peri, Shas MK Avraham Michaeli, and Likud MK Moshe Feiglin for a total of nine. Dorner also had nine Sunday evening, though Yesh Atid MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata, a former legal correspondent for Channel 1, said she would endorse Dorner if she did not receive a tenth endorsement from another MK.
Many of the MKs who endorsed Shechtman and Dorner said they were lending their signature to the candidates in order to permit them to run but that they did not intend to vote for them in the June 10 election in the Knesset.
A poll broadcast over the weekend on Channel 2 found that Shechtman was popular with the general public. Nineteen percent of respondents said they backed him, more support than any candidate received, except for Rivlin.
There still could be a seventh candidate in the race if former foreign minister David Levy decides to run. He could easily obtain 10 endorsements from MKs in Likud Beytenu, but sources in the faction said Levy’s run was looking increasingly unlikely.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to hold a fateful meeting with Rivlin’s supporters Monday. Netanyahu has considered a long list of potential candidates rather than back Rivlin, the only Likud figure who has entered the race.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has tried to persuade the prime minister to back Rivlin. But Netanyahu’s associates said the most likely scenario remained that the prime minister will not publicly endorse any candidate but will work behind the scenes to defeat Rivlin, with whom he has sparred for many years.
A group of well-known female public figures from the worlds of business and culture wrote MKs Sunday asking them to vote for Itzik. Signatories to the letter include businesswoman Raya Strauss Ben-Dror and singers Rita and Achinoam Nini.
Solar pioneer Yosef Abramowitz, who is also seeking the presidency, has not received the backing of an MK. But he did receive an endorsement over the weekend from his sister-in law, American comedienne Sarah Silverman.
“I’ll do whatever [to help him],” she said on the television show The View. “I don’t think he plans on winning. He’s only just world conscious, nominated for a Nobel peace prize, kind and brilliant. But he’s not rich, so it doesn’t make it realistic.”