Both One Israel and the Likud parties were surprised by Thursday's report that former Supreme Court president Meir Shamgar will agree, under certain conditions, to run for the presidency even if he is not the agreed candidate of both major parties, reported Haaretz newspaper Friday.
Shamgar indicated his readiness to be a candidate on Tuesday in a meeting with the heads of three parties - Shinui, the National Religious Party and Yisrael b'Aliyah - who asked him to be a candidate, said the paper.
The Knesset will elect the next president at the end of July, following the resignation of the incumbent, Ezer Weizman.
Even though it remains unlikely that Shamgar will in fact enter the race, the two big parties are concerned that if he does, their strategy will be adversely affected, said the paper, quoting an official as saying.
The senior campaign staff of minister Shimon Peres, the candidate of One Israel, met Tuesday night to discuss the implications of a possible Shamgar candidacy. Sources on the staff were quoted as saying that Peres's chances against Shamgar are better than his chances against the Likud candidate, Moshe Katsav, as the ultra-Orthodox parties will not vote for a former president of the Supreme Court, an institution they regard as inimical to their interests.
This view is supported in the Likud as sources said that if Katsav is forced to withdraw, Peres "will beat Shamgar in a walk," not least because most members of the knesset will prefer to back a political candidate as they, too, may want to be elected president one day, according to Haaretz - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)