Yuli Edelstein was unanimously elected on Thursday afternoon as Likud Beytenu’s
candidate for Knesset speaker.
“Thank you for your support,” Edelstein
told the faction after the vote. “The 19th Knesset has a chance to be
different. People have come to work, and I hope we will change its image,
supervise the government and be there for the citizens.”
Rivlin, speaker of the 16th and 18th Knessets, abstained from the vote. He
removed his candidacy earlier this week, upon learning that he did not have
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support.
“I may be dumb, but I’m not
an idiot. I’m not going to vote for my own dismissal,” Rivlin said shortly
before the vote, adding that he will support the party’s candidate when he is
brought to a vote in the Knesset next week.
“Likud members voted for me
in the primary, because they wanted me to continue as Knesset speaker and be the
candidate for president, but elements in the faction blocked the will of the
party and the public,” he added.
During the faction meeting, Netanyahu
announced that he would like to say a few kind words about
“There’s no need,” Rivlin interrupted, and when Netanyahu
insisted, Rivlin added, “No need, the nation will thank me.”
quietly campaigned for the position for several months, and in February, began
meeting with the members of his faction to gain their support, and found that he
would likely get a majority in a vote.
Netanyahu never publicly announced
support for either candidate.
One high-ranking MK pointed out earlier
this week that Rivlin and Netanyahu often disagreed, with the former speaking
out against Likud-proposed legislation, and that Rivlin may now be paying the
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post Wednesday, MK
Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) discussed the issue, saying that Rivlin “did a noble
thing by clearing the way for Edelstein.”
“I have a lot of respect for
Edelstein – he’s a wonderful person – but the way this happened was
disrespectful to a dignified man like Rivlin, who has been in the Likud for many
years. This isn’t the way to do things; it shouldn’t have to be supporting one
person at the expense of another,” she stated.
Edelstein tendered his
resignation letter from the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry on
Thursday evening, to ensure it goes into effect before he takes up his new
position, because a Knesset speaker may not be part of the executive branch of
Edelstein was public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs minister
and a former immigration and absorption minister. He has been an MK since 1996,
when he founded the Yisrael B’Aliya party to represent immigrants from the
former Soviet Union, which merged with the Likud in 2003.
born in Czernowitz, Ukraine. He served three years in a Soviet labor camp on
trumped-up charges of drug possession, and was active in Zionist activities,
secretly teaching Hebrew in Moscow before immigrating with his family to Gush
Etzion in 1987. He lives in Neveh Daniel.