Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would face serious opposition in the Likud’s ranks and his coalition should he attempt to cancel or delay the presidential election, which is expected to take place in June.
Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar gave a resolutely negative response Friday night to reports in several media outlets, attributed to anonymous sources, that the prime minister is looking into avoiding or pushing off the upcoming presidential election.
“I will oppose any attempt, if there will be one, to push off the date of the presidential election or cancel the presidency on the eve of the vote,” Sa’ar wrote on Facebook.
Sa’ar added that “the rules can’t be changed in the middle of the game.”
Any change to the presidential election procedure requires a vote to amend Basic Law: President of the State before the end of the Knesset’s summer session, which begins Monday.
Netanyahu has yet to announce support for any of the presidential candidates, but his relations with the only MK from Likud Beytenu who announced his entry in the race, Reuven Rivlin, soured before last year’s election. In addition, and National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom, who was rumored to be considering a run, has yet to publicly state his doing so, despite the dropping of a sex crimes investigation against him last week due to lack of evidence.
Possible Netanyahu-friendly candidates who were floated by political sources close to the prime minister, such as Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, former foreign minister David Levy or even Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, said they’re uninterested in running.
MK Haim Katz, who is very influential with Likud activists and is campaigning for Rivlin to be president, also spoke out against the idea Saturday night, calling for Netanyahu to back Rivlin.
“My friends in the Likud and I will not give a hand to attempts to change a Basic Law for personal reasons,” Katz stated.
“MK Reuven Rilvin is the most appropriate and best candidate for the Likud and we all support him as president.”
Earlier last week, Edelstein, who has yet to set a date for the vote, told Israel Hayom
that he doesn’t have an opinion on whether or not the presidency should be canceled, but he opposes the change being made so shortly before a new president is set to be elected.
Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett are also expected to oppose changing the rules of the presidential vote, though Yesh Atid plans to hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the issue, as well as which candidates to openly support, if any.