Political analysts say Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyhau is making desperate maneuvers to try and prevent MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud-Beytenu) from being elected president in the coming weeks. The Knesset began its summer session Monday, a session that will focus on the process of electing a president, as Shimon Peres's term nears its end.
Peres's term ends in July, and a successor is to be elected by the Knesset between 30 and 90 days before then.
Netanyahu reportedly is still trying to bring about a six-month postponement of the election, after failing to do so until now. Sources close to him said that he seeks to use the time to legislate a change in Israel's system of government and election.
The legislation will reportedly be one of three options: the first, completely cancelling the post of president; the second, turning the entire system of government into a presidential system, or (third), changing the law so that after parliamentary elections, the largest Knesset faction is tasked with creating a government, thus doing away with the current system, in which the president has discretion to task whichever party he wishes with forming a coalition government.
The pressing need for these changes is reportedly connected directly to Netanyahu's concern that Rivlin, who is said to be hostile toward him, will, if elected president, use the discretion that the law grants him in order to select someone else to establish the government, and not Netanyahu.
There have also been reports that Netanyahu wants the next presidential elections after Peres's term to be turned into a popular vote. Extending the term of the current president for an additional year will allow the Central Elections Commission to prepare for a general vote, along the same lines as the preparations for general Knesset elections.