Gad Ya'acobi, a former ambassador to the United Nations, believes that public respect for the presidency can be restored, and he is the man for the job.
"If I were to be president, the office of the president's standing would be the same as it was under Yitzhak Navon," he said, referring to Israel's fifth president, like Ya'acobi a member of the Labor Party.
"It would take a year," he told The Jerusalem Post. "The image and the respect of the people can be restored."
Ya'acobi, 71, was a Labor MK for 23 years, during which he was considered close to Shimon Peres, and served as a minister of economics, transportation and communications.
Ironically, he and Ehud Olmert, then a Likud MK, in the 1980s joined in a rare display of Labor-Likud solidarity, calling on their respective parties in support of electoral reform legislation.
"I have wide experience in Israeli law and have written a book about the relationship between the president and the government in Israel," Ya'acobi said. "I know the laws and the functions of both government and the presidency."
If he becomes president, he said, his goals include "bringing together and creating dialogue between Jews and Arabs... along with Jewish rich and poor."
Ya'acobi believes there is a need to mobilize national resources to improve education and democracy in Israel. He also said he would propose public initiatives aimed at raising the profile of the arts and cultural community in Israel.
A wider goal would be to focus on improving the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, something he believes needs some work.
He has visions of a world Jewry conference with people from all backgrounds - academia, science, government, economics and education - to promote mutual understanding. The conference would enable better "mutual understanding," he said.
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