Former Knesset speakers Dalia Itzik and Reuven Rivlin could soon achieve the 10 endorsements from MKs required to run in the presidential election set to be held in May or June, The Jerusalem Post learned Monday.
Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer became the first presidential candidate to pass the threshold when 14 MKs from his faction signed for him last week. Rivlin and Itzik have had a harder time, the former due to rifts inside Likud and the latter because she lacks a political party.
Nevertheless, due to the personal relationships they have built over the years with MKs across the political spectrum, Itzik and Rivlin are both close to obtaining enough endorsements.
Itzik has already been endorsed by MKs Tamar Zandberg (Meretz), Michal Rozin (Meretz), Ya’acov Margi (Shas), Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List) and one other Arab MK.
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum supports Itzik, but her party leader, Avigdor Liberman, has not let her sign. Liberman made a deal with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Yisrael Beytenu MKs would support Netanyahu’s candidate, but he said Monday that if the prime minister does not endorse anyone by early May, Liberman will not bind his MKs with faction discipline.
Rivlin has the backing of Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), Ya’acov Litzman (United Torah Judaism) and seven Likud MKs, including Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely.
Hatnua faction chairman Meir Sheetrit confirmed that he was joining the race in a meeting of the faction on Monday.
Hatnua leader Tzipi Livni said he was fit for the post because of his experience, his socioeconomic experience and his ability to represent the state abroad.
But Sheetrit cautioned that “if at any stage I realize I have no chance, I won’t run.”
Sheetrit has the support of the six Hatnua MKs and Social Welfare Minister Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid), who is his brother-in-law.
Cohen received special permission from his party’s leader, Yair Lapid, to endorse Sheetrit even though Lapid has asked his MKs not to make endorsements until he has decided on a candidate.
Liberman said Tourism Minister Uzi Landau would make a decision about whether to run when he comes back from a trip abroad. If he entered the fray, Yisrael Beytenu’s MKs would endorse him, perhaps excluding Kirschenbaum.
Development of the Negev and Galilee Minister Silvan Shalom has not decided whether to run. Coalition chairman Yariv Levin, who backs Shalom, said this could be the first presidential race decided by who gets enough endorsements to run.
Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman and former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner have had a hard time obtaining endorsements.
Shechtman said he has the backing of five MKs. Dorner has only two, both from Meretz.
Israeli-American solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz said Sunday that he was also considering throwing his hat in the crowded ring of candidates.