(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Likud's Knesset faction on Monday decided that MK Reuven Rivlin would be its candidate for the position of Knesset Speaker, a post he held in the 16th Knesset. The appointment is subject to a vote by the House.
Rivlin has already announced that he plans to cancel former speaker Dalia Itzik's ban on wearing jeans in the Knesset, which she instituted in October 2007.
"If the public wears jeans, we will allow it too, as long as it's respectable," Rivlin said, immediately winning the support of journalists and the Knesset workers.
Rivlin who has said often that he enjoyed the speaker's position, is expected to be voted into the job, even though Kadima, the biggest faction in the Knesset, might still try to nominate Itzik to serve another term.
"I am enthusiastically looking forward to this position and I hope that the entire Knesset, including all of the MKs, will put their trust in me," Rivlin said on Monday, shortly after the Likud faction decision.
"If I am elected, my first and most important mission will be to restore the Knesset and its members' former status in the eye of the public," he said.
Rivlin said that there was a need to introduce an uncompromising ethics code to govern MKs' conduct so recent years' negative phenomena would not repeat themselves.
But when asked about the jeans issue, Rivlin said, "I know that more than the Knesset's status bothers the public, the jeans issue - yes or no - bothers the public more.
"I happened to watch on Saturday night an item on fashion trends where we were notified that jeans, in all of its styles, colors and kinds, are a primary fashion item. I don't plan to forbid jeans in the public's House; if the public wears jeans we will allow it too, as long as it's respectable," he said.
He added, however, "Jeans - yes, torn jeans - no. There is a limit to every tear that sometimes reveals too much and doesn't show proper respect for the place where it is worn."
He did not say anything about sandals, which had also been banned by Itzik, as had sleeveless t-shirts and shorts. But a Rivlin aide said that while the Knesset dress code would indeed be eased, there would still be one, to uphold the dignity of the Knesset.
While chances are that Rivlin would win the job against any candidate because he enjoys the support of most of the MKs, Kadima faction chairman MK Yoel Hasson said his party was debating whether to nominate its own candidate or back the Likud's decision so that the House speaker would be elected unanimously.
Hasson stressed that Kadima had not convened yet to discuss the matter.
The Likud was not able to decide Monday who would be its faction chairman, a post not considered particularly desirable, certainly not by any MK who would prefer to be a minister.
There are currently two possible candidates for the job: Ze'ev Elkin who left Kadima ahead of the general elections and joined the Likud, and Ophir Akunis, the former Likud spokesman who was just elected to the Knesset for the first time.
Sources close to Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu said that he didn't particularly want either of them in the position.