The race for Knesset Speaker heated up in Likud Beytenu this week, with outgoing
Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein campaigning to replace Reuven Rivlin,
who hopes to continue holding his post in the new Knesset.
been talking to Likud Beytenu faction members to convince them to vote for him,
and hopes to meet with all 31 of the joint list’s MKs before the coalition is
formed and they vote for the next Speaker.
“He doesn’t want to disrespect
Rivlin or start a big media campaign; it’s just a series of quiet meetings,” a
source close to Edelstein explained.
The minister had the courtesy to
wait until this Sunday, when Rivlin finished observing the shiva mourning period
for his brother Eliezer, to begin the series of meetings.
A source close
to Rivlin said the two-time Knesset Speaker received a promise from Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he would endorse Rivlin for the
“Rivlin ran in the Likud primary with the slogan ‘Our Knesset
Speaker,’” the source said. “He was elected to this job. The only other person
in the Likud who was elected to a specific position is the prime
Both Edelstein’s camp and Yisrael Beytenu would not comment on
reports that former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman supports Edelstein, and
the source close to Rivlin pointed out that part of the merger agreement between
Likud and Yisrael Beytenu is that Liberman will back anyone Netanyahu
A senior Likud source posited that, since Rivlin has made no
secret of his intentions to run for president next year, and he is widely
considered Netanyahu’s preferred candidate for Knesset Speaker, Edelstein is
positioning himself to take Rivlin’s place next year.
source expressed doubt that Netanyahu promised anything to Rivlin, saying the
prime minister would have said so publicly if he supported the outgoing
He also expressed concern that Rivlin would be
unnecessarily forgiving and generous to MKs who he hopes would vote for him as
“Knesset Speaker is a respectable job and should not just be a
jumping off point to another position, like president,” Edelstein’s camp added.
“Yuli, a former prisoner of Zion with 17 years of experience as an MK, is well
liked by all factions of the house and is known in parliaments and Jewish
communities around the world.”