Former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik has become the fourth candidate to obtain the 10 lawmakers’ endorsements necessary to run in the June 10 presidential election, joining MKs Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Binyamin Ben- Eliezer (Labor) and Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua).
Itzik has received endorsements from legislators across the political map, including from Yesh Atid and Shas. She hopes to also obtain the biggest endorsement – from Foreign Minister and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, whose faction’s 11 MKs are expected to be obedient even though the vote will be by secret ballot.
Yisrael Beytenu officials said Liberman would decide which candidate to endorse by Monday at the latest. “Everything is open,” a source in the party said.
Receiving the backing from Yisrael Beytenu MKs could be enough to send Itzik to the second round, where she could have a good chance against Rivlin or Ben-Eliezer.
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid resolved their parliamentary dispute. Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said funds would be distributed to Yesh Atid ministries after the Finance Ministry restored funds that had been withheld from the Construction and Housing Ministry that is headed by Bayit Yehudi’s Uri Ariel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will continue deliberating on how to handle the race for president until the last minute and probably will not endorse any candidate, sources close to him said on Wednesday, hours after he let it be known that he would not endorse Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom, who consequently decided not to run.
Netanyahu’s associates said it was very unlikely that he would back former foreign minister David Levy, because there was little chance of him winning the race.
Levy said he wanted the job and was still considering running but that a broad consensus in the Knesset would have to develop behind him by the deadline to enter the race for him to do so.
“I don’t know what will happen Tuesday,” he said. “I am respectfully considering it. If the conditions develop, I’ll make an announcement.”
Hatnua faction chairman Meir Sheetrit, who received enough endorsements to run on Wednesday, faced another negative news report on Thursday.
Channel 10 reported on Sunday that he had paid a housekeeper he fired NIS 250,000 in severance pay after she worked for him for a short period. On Thursday, the channel revealed that there had been a police investigation of the payment that had hit a dead end.
Sheetrit responded that he was unaware of the police probe.
Two outsider candidates each remained four endorsements away from running: Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman and former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner. Shechtman’s associates complained that despite a request from Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, the party’s MKs had not endorsed him. Dorner addressed the women’s group of Beit Yehudi on Thursday.
“We must keep the Jewish aspect of our state,” Dorner said at the event.