Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel intends to begin signing up Knesset members in his party soon to support the presidential candidacy of Labor MK Binyamin Ben- Eliezer, sources in the party said Monday.
The support of 10 MKs is required to run for president. Likud MK Reuven Rivlin became the first presidential candidate to start signing up MKs last week.
Ben-Eliezer has appointed Cabel as his campaign manager. Rivlin’s campaign manager is Likud MK Haim Katz.
So far, the only definite candidates are Rivlin, Ben-Eliezer and Nobel Laureate Dan Shechtman.
Housing Minister Uri Ariel and Deputy Minister in Charge of Liason with the Knesset Ophir Akunis endorsed Rivlin late Monday night in the race for President.
Ariel and Akunis joined four other MKs who endorsed Rivlin last week; Interior Minister Gideon Saar, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, and MKs Haim Katz and Tzahi Hanegbi.
The chemistry professor has a disadvantage in not having a faction from which to harvest votes, but he has obtained the backing of Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson.
Former foreign minister David Levy, who considered running, will apparently remain outside the race after his associates were told he would not have the support of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Development of the Negev and Galilee Minister Silvan Shalom and former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik are still undecided about whether to run.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will not announce a date for the race until the Knesset returns from its extended Passover recess on May 12. His associates hinted that he would want to minimize the length of the race – and the accompanying tension in the Knesset – by holding the election by the end of May.
There have been calls to hold the race as late as possible as a sign of respect for current President Shimon Peres. The last possible day for the election would be June 25, as it must be held at least a month before Peres completes his term on July 27.