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Bennett And Livni Talk About Canceling Presidency

The two consider joining forces to support initiative canceling president's position, comes after cooperation over Chief Rabbinate.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 1/31/2014, 9:53 AM

Tzipi Livni and Naftali Bennett
Tzipi Livni and Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni are reportedly investigating the possibility of joining forces to cancel the post of President of Israel, a largely figurehead position that is currently held by Shimon Peres.

This Sunday, the two ministers met and Bennett asked "what do you think about the initiative to cancel the institute of state president?" reports Maariv. According to reports, Livni smiled and said that after her and Bennett's partnership to reduce the number of Chief Rabbis to 1, their next stage would be to reduce the number of presidents to zero.

"What do we need this institute for?" asked Bennett, to which Livni reportedly replied she intends to investigate the initiative, a position her Justice Ministry confirmed. The president, who holds term for 7 years, signs every law and international treaty, but does not wield actual executive power.

Jewish Home sources close to Bennett say he "intends to learn" the full meaning of the president's position, whether he lessens the pressure on the prime minister, and based on the investigation will possibly work to remove the position.

It is noted that Peres as president held a birthday party last year that cost 2 million shekels ($450,000), and that his state-funded budget in 2012 was 62.7 million shekels ($17.19 million), 3 times the budget of 2000. Peres has used his position to say Jews shouldn't fear living under the Palestinian Authority (PA), and that PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is "unnecessary."

Sources close to Livni said "she needs first to think about advancing it, and then she'll want to confer with professional and political sources." They noted the need to consider "if it's realistic to pass a law of this size before the coming elections for the presidency. Maybe it's only possible to do so afterwards."

Apparently Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is also considering the initiative. Sources close to him claim "he certainly isn't negating the idea, it could be that after Shimon Peres's term the time will come to cancel the presidency."

Livni and Bennett have been at odds in the past, although as mentioned regarding the Chief Rabbinate they have been aligned on several occasions.

Bennett voted for a controversial bill giving same-sex couples equal tax breaks last December, even as the rest of his party left the hall to abstain. Livni has strongly pushed for same-sex marriages in Israel.

Bennet's vote came after a compromise was reached whereby same-sex couples would receive the tax breaks but not through official recognition in the legislation, sparing Jewish Home from being perceived as officially condoning same-sex marriage.