Edelstein is Likud's choice for Knesset Speaker

Rivlin: Likud Beyteinu members wanted me as speaker; vote by entire Knesset to take place next week.

Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstei (photo credit: Courtesy)
Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstei
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yuli Edelstein was unanimously elected on Thursday afternoon as Likud Beytenu’s candidate for Knesset speaker.
“Thank you for your support,” Edelstein told the faction after the vote. “The 19th Knesset has a chance to be different. People have come to work, and I hope we will change its image, supervise the government and be there for the citizens.”
MK Reuven Rivlin, speaker of the 16th and 18th Knessets, abstained from the vote. He removed his candidacy earlier this week, upon learning that he did not have Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s support.
“I may be dumb, but I’m not an idiot. I’m not going to vote for my own dismissal,” Rivlin said shortly before the vote, adding that he will support the party’s candidate when he is brought to a vote in the Knesset next week.
“Likud members voted for me in the primary, because they wanted me to continue as Knesset speaker and be the candidate for president, but elements in the faction blocked the will of the party and the public,” he added.
During the faction meeting, Netanyahu announced that he would like to say a few kind words about Rivlin.
“There’s no need,” Rivlin interrupted, and when Netanyahu insisted, Rivlin added, “No need, the nation will thank me.”
Edelstein quietly campaigned for the position for several months, and in February, began meeting with the members of his faction to gain their support, and found that he would likely get a majority in a vote.
Netanyahu never publicly announced support for either candidate.
One high-ranking MK pointed out earlier this week that Rivlin and Netanyahu often disagreed, with the former speaking out against Likud-proposed legislation, and that Rivlin may now be paying the price.
In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post Wednesday, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) discussed the issue, saying that Rivlin “did a noble thing by clearing the way for Edelstein.”
“I have a lot of respect for Edelstein – he’s a wonderful person – but the way this happened was disrespectful to a dignified man like Rivlin, who has been in the Likud for many years. This isn’t the way to do things; it shouldn’t have to be supporting one person at the expense of another,” she stated.
Edelstein tendered his resignation letter from the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry on Thursday evening, to ensure it goes into effect before he takes up his new position, because a Knesset speaker may not be part of the executive branch of government.
Edelstein was public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs minister and a former immigration and absorption minister. He has been an MK since 1996, when he founded the Yisrael B’Aliya party to represent immigrants from the former Soviet Union, which merged with the Likud in 2003.
Edelstein was born in Czernowitz, Ukraine. He served three years in a Soviet labor camp on trumped-up charges of drug possession, and was active in Zionist activities, secretly teaching Hebrew in Moscow before immigrating with his family to Gush Etzion in 1987. He lives in Neveh Daniel.