Itzik's busy Independence Day schedule

Acting president to work a marathon of ceremonies and events on Independence Day.

In the three months in which she has been acting president, Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik has held a state luncheon for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, received the credentials of new ambassadors, participated in the official memorial tributes to deceased presidents and prime ministers, hosted a sports team and welcomed various social action organizations to Beit Hanassi. However, she has never worked as hard in her presidential role as she will tomorrow, Independence Day, the longest working day in the president's annual schedule. It is an even more strenuous day than the Open House event during one of the intermediate days of Succot, when thousands of visitors file through the presidential residence to express season's greetings and to shake the hand of the president and his or her spouse. As acting president, Itzik has not involved her husband Dan in her presidential duties, though it's possible that he and her children will be among the many people who will mingle on the lawns of Beit Hanassi tomorrow during one or more of the various events in which Itzik will be participating. Her working day, on what for most other people is a public holiday, will officially begin early in the morning with a reception for all the IDF commanders from the 1948 war to the present day, past presidents, prime ministers, past and present defense ministers, chiefs of security organizations such as the Israel Security Agency, Mossad and the police, national heroes and recipients of insignia denoting bravery or outstanding service. This year there will be special emphasis on the Six Day War, which led to the reunification of Jerusalem, the 40th anniversary of which is being celebrated in tandem with Israel's 59th Independence Day. Itzik and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will each address the invitees. The reception will be followed by a special ceremony honoring 120 outstanding soldiers representing all branches of the IDF. Each the soldiers will be presented with a special citation and badge by Itzik and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. The ceremony will be held in the presence of families of the honorees, who like families in previous years, will likely come armed with video and stills cameras and will ignore requests to remain in their places when the name of the particular soldier in each family is announced. There will be the usual mad scramble by proud grandparents, parents and siblings to capture the salute and handshake for posterity. After the ceremony, Itzik will pose for photographs with the 120 soldiers, her second series of posed photographs for the day. She will also pose with three generations of members of Israel's defense establishment after reviewing the military honor guard prior to the morning reception. In the afternoon, together with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Itzik will host the traditional Independence Day reception for the diplomatic corps. It will be the first time in the history of the state in which such a reception is hosted by two women. Itzik is the first woman to assume presidential duties and Livni is the second woman after Golda Meir, who was foreign minister from 1956 to 1965, to serve in that capacity. Each of the guests will stand in a long receiving line to formally shake hands with Itzik and Livni, after which there will be yet another ceremony in which the two women will address the assembled guests. After a brief respite, Itzik will go next door to the Jerusalem Theater to participate in the Israel Prize awards ceremony. Rumor has it that Itzik has become quite fond of her presidential position and would be inclined to throw her cap into the presidential race, providing that her mentor Shimon Peres does not run. As yet, Peres has not yet announced whether he is a candidate, although it is generally assumed that he is. However if he is not, it is almost certain that Itzik will be, which means that there will be not one but two women contending for the presidency - yet another historic development in the annals of the state.