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Former FM Levy hints he does not intend to seek presidency after Peres
By GIL HOFFMAN
03/12/2013
If Levy doesn't run, it would help former Knesset speaker Rivlin, who hopes to obtain the support of most of the MKs on the Right.
 
Former foreign minister David Levy hinted to The Jerusalem Post on Monday that he does not intend to be a candidate to replace President Shimon Peres when his term ends on July 15.

Levy’s name has been raised as a potential candidate because of his vast political experience, his ability to build bridges inside Israeli society, his Sephardi ethnicity and the closeness of his family members to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.

Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas, a close Netanyahu confidant, is Levy’s nephew. Liberman’s chief of staff, Sharon Shalom, is Levy’s son-in-law, and Yisrael Beytenu MK Orli Levy-Abecasis is Levy’s daughter.

“I am satisfied with with my life,” Levy said in a phone interview from his home in Beit She’an. “I cannot judge the many people who have encouraged me to run. They have good intentions. But I don’t address the issue.”

If Levy does not run, it would help former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, who hopes to obtain the support of most of the MKs on the Right. It could also help two other expected Sephardi candidates, MKs Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) and Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua).

Ben-Eliezer said Monday that Levy posed no threat to him, and that the former foreign minister would not take any votes from him if he decided to run. Sheetrit said ethnicity would not be an issue in the race and that there was no need to have a Sephardi president to make up for the misadventures of disgraced Sephardi former president Moshe Katsav.

“People forget that Yitzhak Navon was also Sephardi,” Sheetrit said. “You can’t judge all of us by one rotten apple.”

Former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, who is also Sephardi, is considering running. Blogger Tal Schneider has proposed another female Sephardi candidate: Haredi Women’s College president Adina Bar-Shalom.

The Egyptian-born Bar- Shalom is a respected educator and peace activist and the daughter of the late Shas mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. She has visited Ramallah multiple times and met with Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Schneider wrote that Bar- Shalom would be an inspiring president, especially for women. The blogger has promoted Bar-Shalom’s candidacy in conversations with officials in Yisrael Beytenu and other parties. Bar-Shalom has not publicly commented on the suggestion.

The election for president will be held in a secret-ballot vote at the Knesset between mid-May and mid-June.
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