The Yesh Atid faction will begin deliberations next week on which candidate the faction should support in the race to succeed President Shimon Peres, which is expected to take place in June.
The only three definite candidates in the race are former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Labor MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and Nobel Prize laureate Dan Schectman, who joined the contest on Friday.Other possible candidates include Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud), MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), former Knesset speaker Dalia Itzik, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, and the late Shas mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s daughter, Prof. Adina Bar-Shalom. When Yesh Atid MKs discuss the race, there will be MKs who will suggest backing a non-politician like Schectman, faction members who will push for a female candidate like Bar-Shalom or Itzik, and others who will recommend backing a current MK.Yesh Atid MKs said backing Schectman would be fitting for a faction of professionals without political experience who were drafted by Finance Minister Yair Lapid into politics. But Lapid has also made a point of appointing women to all the top positions in his ministry and the Bank of Israel, so he may decide that Israel needs to elect a female president for the first time.Bar-Shalom, who heads the Haredi College for Women, intends to seek the backing of Shas and other factions.Officials in Shas said that, on the one hand, the party has never supported women seeking public office; but on the other hand, it would be hard to say no to the daughter of the party’s late mentor.An online petition backing Schectman’s candidacy that aimed to attract the support of 10,000 people was already endorsed by 13,360 by press time. However, only the 120 MKs vote for president, not the public, and the endorsement of 10 MKs is a requirement to run. MK Dov Lipman said he has met with four candidates who asked for his support. He said he would recommend one of them when the faction discusses the race.