Israeli parliament to elect new president among field of five candidates

Lawmakers will have to choose between MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu), MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), former MK Dalia Itzik, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner, and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman.

Presidential race
Israel will have a new president-elect, with the vote in the Knesset beginning at 11 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
Lawmakers will have to choose between MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu), MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), former acting president Dalia Itzik, former Supreme Court justice Dalia Dorner and Nobel Laureate Prof. Dan Shechtman for Israel's next president.
The first round of voting is expected to take two hours and 45 minutes and, unless the unlikely scenario in which one candidate receives 61 votes comes true, a second round will follow half an hour later, in which the top two candidates will face off against each other.
Knesset Secretary Yardena Maller-Horowitz will call the MKs' names. Each one will walk into an opaque booth in the plenum, choose a slip of paper with a candidate's name, put it in an envelope, and put the envelope in a box, which will be brought to Maller-Horowitz's office at the end of each round of voting, where the slips will be counted.
The voting booth has a roof, so that journalists, who sit in the plenum's mezzanine, can't peek inside.
The race remained wide open Monday, as dozens of MKs still did not know for whom they would vote and candidates continued to try to woo them.
Shas MKs were a target of the candidates' campaigns, as the party's Torah Sages Council granted them freedom to vote as they choose in the first round, a reflection of disunity in the party's ranks. Several Shas legislators are
At least one undecided MK, Yesh Atid's Dov Lipman, joked that he didn't want to leave his office and walk through the halls, because he was being harangued and nagged about the race every few feet he walked.
Labor MKs Stav Shaffir and Moshe Mizrachi followed in the footsteps of many on the left and announced they would vote for Dorner.
While MKs are expecting the unexpected in the race, Rivlin seems to be a sure thing for the second round with a battle of the Dalias for who will be his competitor, as both Itzik and Dorner have significant support in the Knesset.
Rivlin teared up during a speech to the Likud faction on Monday afternoon, saying "I was born in the [Likud forebear] Herut Party and I never left it for any temptation. Tomorrow may be my greatest hour, but it may be an important time for the whole party, in which one of its sons will become president of our country."
At the beginning of the faction meeting, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not mention the presidential race of his own volition, simply answering positively when asked by reporters if he wants to wish Rivlin good luck. Then, the two awkwardly shook hands.
When photographers asked if Netanyahu wants to express his support for the cameras, he said "I already did."
Sheetrit was also brought to tears, when he mentioned his daughter, Miri, who died of cancer. The anniversary of her death is on Tuesday.
Sheetrit, who is one of the top 10 wealthiest politicians according to Forbes Israel, released his finances in the Hatnua faction meeting after all of the other candidates did so on Monday, raising questions about whether he was hiding something.
The MK listed three apartments that are worth about NIS 4-5 million altogether, which he owns together with his wife. He also distributed his pay stub, which showed he earns NIS 23,123 a month.
However, Sheetrit did not detail property listed under his wife's company, Sheetrit Communications, which is estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, saying that he is not involved in managing those funds.
"Since I made aliyah from Morocco to a ma'bara [transit camp for new immigrants], everything I did with my wife Ruti was with my own two hands and with hard work," he stated. "My 40 years of work speak for themselves; I am clean."
Meanwhile, Shechtman called a press conference to announce that, although many reported that he has the least support of any candidate, he believes he will reach the second round and is not giving up hope.
"I invite MKs to consider, when they stand behind the curtain [of the voting booth], who is the most important candidate. Who is a president we can be proud of?...Who will represent Israel well?" he asked. "As someone who doesn't come from politics and has an international reputation, doors are open to me.
If his presidential bid is unsuccessful, Shechtman said he is considering running for a political position on a centrist platform, but did not specify what he thinks centrist means.
The Nobel Prize-winner also said he spoke to former Likud minister Moshe Kachlon, who is considering forming a new political party.
Also Monday, opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) expressed regret for supporting his party's MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for the presidency.
Ben-Eliezer is currently under investigation for allegedly illegally receiving funds to buy an apartment in Jaffa. On Monday, police found thousands of undeclared dollars in his safe.
"We have undergone difficult days and behaved humanely and responsibly. I hope that whoever is elected tomorrow will rehabilitate the dignity of the presidency," Herzog said. "We decided to give our MKs freedom in the election. I am not dodging responsibility and I accept it as chairman of the Labor Party."
Herzog refused to answer questions about who he will vote for.