Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s bribery conviction will not sway undecided MKs to support an apolitical candidate for president, Nobel Prize-winning professor Dan Shechtman concedes.
Shechtman has struggled to obtain the 10 endorsements from members of Knesset required to field his candidacy.
Even MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), who was the first MK to sign for Shechtman, said that while he granted his signature to enable Shechtman to run, he had not decided whether to vote for him.
“The public wants someone clean and apolitical,” Shechtman said between meetings with MKs at the parliament on Monday. “The Knesset members clearly do not. They want someone from here.”
Shechtman’s spokesman said his people had sensed a strong sentiment from the public that they are looking for someone who is not a politician.
“But I wouldn’t want the public to think that all politicians are corrupt,” he said. “One bad apple does not mean that all the politicians are like Olmert. They work hard and do their best to help the country.”
Former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, who is also an outside candidate for president, said she did not know whether Olmert’s conviction would affect the race.
Prospective presidential candidate MK Silvan Shalom (Likud) is being investigated for alleged sexual harassment. Candidates MKs Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua) were investigated in the past for misuse of funds and completely cleared.
“[Rivlin] has no skeletons in the closet,” a spokesman for him said. “If he did, they would have found out when he ran last time.”
MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) has faced critical media reports alleging improprieties during his victorious run for party leader in 2001, but he has never faced a criminal investigation.
Former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik’s only connection to any alleged wrongdoing is her close relationship with Olmert.
While presidents formally have the right to pardon criminals, they cannot issue pardons without permission from the justice system.
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