In what is shaping up to be one of the most interesting presidential races in Israel’s history, former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik has begun to collect signatures from MKs, it was reported on Sunday.
A candidate must have the support of ten MKs before being allowed to run for president. According to Channel 10 News, MK Yaakov Margi (Shas) was the first MK to sign for Itzik.
Itzik served in the Knesset between 1992 and 2012, first for the Labor party and then for Kadima. Following the 2006 elections she became Knesset Speaker and served as acting President when then-President Moshe Katzav took a leave of absence, and later when he resigned.
Deputy Interior Minister Faina Kirschenbaum (Yisrael Beytenu) has also expressed interest in signing for Itzik, the Channel 10 report said, but is waiting to find out what is her party chairman Avigdor Liberman’s stance on the issue.
The Yisrael Hayom newspaper reported on Sunday that Tourism Minister Uzi Landau of Yisrael Beytenu was considering running for president and would be endorsed by Liberman and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu if he does.
Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin, a member of Netanayhu’s Likud party, is also planning to run for President. Rivlin’s relationship with Netanyahu remains shaky; the Prime Minister replaced Rivlin with current Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein in the 19th Knesset, and Rivlin has on occasion been critical of Netanyahu’s statements.
Other candidates in the presidential election include Nobel Laureate Professor Daniel Shechtman, who recently announced his candidacy, explaining he wants to be "a man of the people" and not identify himself with a specific party.
Another candidate who has thrown her hat into the ring is former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, president of the Israeli Press Council. Dorner announced last Thursday that she would seek the presidency as well, saying, like Shechtman, that she believes the president should be apolitical.