Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with presidential candidate MK Reuven Rivlin’s campaign manager, MK Haim Katz, on Monday, in an effort to end a lengthy dispute between the two men.
Netanyahu and former Knesset speaker Rivlin have been fighting for several years in a rift that has become personal. Over the course of the fight, Rivlin has openly criticized the prime minister and his wife, Sara.
Katz asked Netanyahu to speak with Rivlin at a meeting to set aside differences, which in the Middle East is traditionally called a sulha, from the Arabic. Rivlin’s associates said on Tuesday that joining forces could help Netanyahu as well as Rivlin.
“The prime minister will look good if he picks a winner, and he would bring the Likud a lot of respect,” a source close to Rivlin said.
The last Likud president, Moshe Katsav, was convicted of rape and is in prison.
If a Netanyahu-Rivlin meeting takes place, chances are it will not be for a while. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein is not expected to set a date for the presidential vote until the Knesset returns from its extended Passover recess on May 12. The race will be held between late May and late June.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) and Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ophir Akunis (Likud) endorsed Rivlin on Monday. Four other MKs did last week. Candidates need the support of 10 MKs to run.
Rivlin, whose nicknames are Ruvy and Ruby, published a website on Tuesday called “Rubicon.” His spokesman said the site had been in the works for more than a year and was not connected to the campaign for president.
“Then again, it couldn’t hurt,” he said.