Israeli-American solar energy pioneer Yosef Abramowitz vowed on Tuesday to continue with his bid to join the presidential race, despite the major setback he received when Yesh Atid MKs decided to endorse other candidates.
Yesh Atid’s decision will make it extremely difficult for Abramowitz to obtain the 10 endorsements from MKs required by next Tuesday to participate in the June 10 Knesset vote. He was counting on receiving support from several Yesh Atid Knesset members, but party chairman Yair Lapid urged his faction on Monday to endorse any of three candidates who need a few more endorsements to be able to run: former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner or Nobel laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.
“I am deeply disappointed in Yair Lapid for not including me on his kosher list for his faction, since Yesh Atid was most likely to give me that first MK signature,” Abramowitz said from Stockholm, where he was representing Israel at a Cleantech conference. “As finance minister, one would think that as the only candidate from the private sector and with a track record of attracting investments in the Israeli economy – and the only one who supports pluralism and civil marriage – I would be at the top of his list.”
Sources in Yesh Atid said Lapid was not as familiar with Abramowitz as the other candidates, and that if he had made more of an effort to reach out to Lapid, perhaps the decision would have been different.
Abramowitz, 49, made aliya with his wife and five children from Massachusetts in 2006 and soon co-founded Arava Power Company at Kibbutz Ketura. Dubbed “Captain Sunshine” by his colleagues, Abramowitz has inaugurated a 4.95-megawatt solar field at Kibbutz Ketura.
His wife, Susan Silverman, is a Reform rabbi and the sister of US comedian Sarah Silverman.
Unlike the six leading current candidates, and other potential candidates who have not joined, Abramowitz has not succeed in obtaining any endorsements yet.
“There are days when we can see how we are going to get to 10 MKs and days that are disheartening,” he said.
“I believe signatures two to five are the easy ones, and five to 10 are harder but doable. But that first one is what has been the most challenging.”
Abramowitz said two MKs from different parties were speaking to their party leaders to get permission to support him. He lashed out at the Knesset members who are the voting body and the current candidates in particular for how the race has been run.
“It is amazing how un-free Knesset members are and how politicized the election has become,” he said. “[My candidacy] is a serious bid to offer an idealistic, activist alternative and [it is] OK to characterize it as dark horse or long shot.”