Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid put the final nail in the coffin of efforts by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to delay next month’s presidential election, by announcing his opposition late on Tuesday night.
Netanyahu had hoped to delay the race by six months and then negotiate electoral reforms with his coalition partners that could have led to eliminating the institution of the presidency. His associates said on Monday that he believed his move could succeed because none of the parties in the coalition had come out against it.
Lapid voiced opposition to the plan, in a move seen as revenge for Netanyahu’s blocking his confidant, Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, from becoming chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “I will oppose any initiative to delay the race for president,” Lapid said. “A constitutional change cannot be hastened and made at the last moment.”
Next week, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will announce a date for the 120 MKs to choose the next president. A candidate who spoke to him said Edelstein would choose June 16 or 18. Channel 10 reported that Netanyahu was still looking for another candidate and had asked former finance minister Yaakov Neeman to run.
One of the current candidates said it was too late for Netanyahu to draft a new candidate into the race.
“Even if he gets God to run, it’s already too late at this point,” the candidate said.