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MK Edelstein campaigns to replace Rivlin as Speaker
By LAHAV HARKOV
02/20/2013
Source: Edelstein has been talking to Likud Beytenu members in effort to convince them to vote for him to be Knesset Speaker.
 
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.

Edelstein has 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 position.

“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 minister.”

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 appoints.

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.

Another Likud source expressed doubt that Netanyahu promised anything to Rivlin, saying the prime minister would have said so publicly if he supported the outgoing Speaker’s reelection.

He also expressed concern that Rivlin would be unnecessarily forgiving and generous to MKs who he hopes would vote for him as president.

“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.”
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