Nobel Prize laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman began drafting support for his presidential race Monday with meetings at the Knesset with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and at the Foreign Ministry with Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman.
Together, Lapid and Liberman control a quarter of the Knesset, so Shechtman’s first meetings were crucial for his candidacy. In order to run for president, Shechtman needs the support of at least 10 MKs.
“I know there is a stereotype that I am naive, but I know what I want and I know what I’m doing to get there,” Shechtman told The Jerusalem Post in an interview between meetings with MKs at the Knesset.
“I know who is for whom and who is against whom. I can unite the people of Israel, so I won’t speak about controversial issues, which divide the people.”
Shechtman said all the prospective candidates are fitting, but since Israel faces the prospect of boycotts, the Jewish state requires the best person to defend it. He noted that he gives 100 lectures a year in international events.
He said that in his speeches and meetings with world leaders, he uses his strong suit of science but also stresses human rights for minorities in Israel.
The great-grandson of a Karlin-Stolin hassid, he is not religious but he considers himself a biblical scholar.
“I am a proud Zionist,” Shechtman said. “I can tell you about every blossom that grows in this land. I know the history and the Bible.”
Shechtman met Monday with Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, and Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson. Edelstein, who has yet to set a date for the presidential election, said he would not be endorsing anyone, “but whoever runs must be able to reach out to all of Israel’s citizens, no matter what their opinions or standing.”
Feiglin presented a bill that would require a seven-year cooling-off period for politicians before they run for president.
Shechtman announced his run for president in January. If he wins, he would be the first non-politician to win since biophysicist Ephraim Katzir in 1973.
Meanwhile, former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin began obtaining the signatures of the 10 MKs needed to run. The MKs who already signed were Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely and Likud MKs Tzachi Hanegbi and Haim Katz.
The move, organized by Katz, was intended to preempt a run by Development of the Negev and Galilee Minister Silvan Shalom, who has not yet decided whether to join the race.
When Hotovely asked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Monday’s Likud Beytenu faction meeting why Likud had not decided yet on its candidate for the presidential race, he did not answer.