Most Israelis would like to see MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud) as Israel’s next president, a poll released Thursday found.
The poll, conducted for the Knesset Channel by the Panels Institute, found that 28% of Israelis want to see Rivlin become president after Shimon Peres concludes his term this summer.
Rivlin was followed by Noble Laureate Professor Dan Shechtman, who surprised many by announcing his candidacy this past week, with 25%. Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky received 7% support, MKs Silvan Shalom and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer each received 6% and 2% said they’d like to see former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik as the next president.
It should be noted that the identity of the President is not determined by the citizens but by Knesset members through a secret ballot.
Rivlin ran against Peres for the presidency in 2007 and lost. He has expressed his interest in running again, but Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly does not want Rivlin to be president.
Some have speculated that Netanyahu’s decision to replace Rivlin as Knesset Speaker with Yuli Edelstein this term was meant to weaken Rivlin’s presidential campaign.
It is believed Netanyahu supports Sharansky as president, as do Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s position on the issue has not yet been heard in public, but he reportedly is not ruling out Sharansky 's candidacy either.
Thursday’s poll results are consistent with a recent Channel 2 poll which found that most Israelis favor a second term for Peres but strongly back Rivlin if Peres does not continue as president.