Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, head of the Council for Higher Education, is leaving his post and is considering a political career, a source close to him told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Trajtenberg, 63, led the committee the government appointed to react to the socioeconomic protests of the summer of 2011. He is expected to be pursued by several parties ahead of the next election, including Labor, Yesh Atid and a new party that is expected to be created by former social welfare minister Moshe Kahlon.
While Trajtenberg would only say that all options are open regarding his future, a source close to him said that “if the right opportunity arose, he would not rule it out.” The source termed as “nonsense” a Haaretz report that he had already decided to run together with Kahlon.
“Trajtenberg has not spoken to Kahlon in a year,” the source said. “There are many options, and Kahlon’s party is just one of them.”
Polls have shown that a socioeconomically focused party led by Kahlon and other respected figures like Trajtenberg and discount supermarket icon Rami Levy would win 10-12 seats in the next Knesset.
A high-ranking source in Labor called Trajtenberg “a respected and serious figure with an outlook similar to ours.” But the source said there had not been contacts with Trajtenberg and that there would not be until he leaves his post on February 1.
Two of the leaders of the socioeconomic protest movement who negotiated with Trajtenberg that summer are now Labor MKs, Itzik Shmuly and Stav Shaffir. Labor won the prize when several parties sought to draft another respected figure in education, former Ben-Gurion University of the Negev president Avishay Braverman, in 2005.
Asked whether there was a place for Trajtenberg in the Likud, faction chairman Yariv Levin said “he should come and run [in the primary], and the party members will decide.”
Trajtenberg told Education Minister Shai Piron (Yesh Atid) that he would complete his work on reforms in the higher education system before he leaves his post.
Piron praised him for his contributions to the state, especially in developing excellence among top students and opening higher education to new populations.
Immediately following his retirement, Trajtenberg intends to write a book on the socioeconomic agenda of Israeli society.