The candidates to succeed President Shimon Peres urged Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Tuesday to hold the election in the final week permitted by law in an effort to ensure that Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom’s investigation will be behind him.
Shalom has been accused of harassing a female employee 15 years ago. The accusations came out days ahead of when he was expected to announce that he would run for head of state.
The Knesset will elect the next president in a secret ballot vote. The earliest possible date that Edelstein could set for the vote is May 26, two weeks after Knesset members return from their Passover recess.
The final possible date is June 25, a month before Peres’s term ends on July 27.
The candidates called upon Edelstein to set as late a date as possible so Shalom could run if the case against him is closed and he is cleared.
“It is important to let everyone run,” said presidential candidate Dalia Itzik, who set the latest possible date for the last presidential race when she was Knesset speaker. “Any possible impression that a candidate has been prevented from running must be avoided.”
A source close to Nobel laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman said he would not rule out endorsing such a decision by the Knesset speaker.
“It makes sense,” the source said. “Let Shalom clear his name. If the Knesset speaker wants to delay the race to the last day, that is fine. We are in favor of fair play.”
Shechtman told Channel 2 that it is important that the truth come to light as soon as possible. He said that if Shalom were cleared, he would be fit to run, and the Knesset would decide if he is fit to be president.
Speaking about his own failure thus far to obtain the endorsements of the 10 MKs required to run, Shechtman said, “The Israeli public deserves a president it can be proud of.”
The Movement for Governance and Democracy called upon Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and urged them to take steps to ensure that the investigation is completed as soon as possible.
A survey conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute asked citizens for their opinions on the role of the president.
On the question of whether the president should express opinions on controversial issues that he or she considers important, greater support was found for doing so among Arab citizens of Israel (78 percent) than among Jewish citizens of Israel (53%).
As for whether the president should express criticism over government policies that he sees as potentially damaging to the country, the Arab public was supportive of such criticism (65%), while the majority of Jews (51%) felt that it is wrong for the president to publicly criticize government policy.
The telephone survey was conducted in early March 2014 by the Midgam Research Institute. The survey included 603 respondents, who constitute a representative national sample of Israel’s population aged 18 and over. The maximum measurement error for the entire sample is ±4.1% at a confidence level of 95%.