Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein announced Sunday that after consulting with the Knesset legal advisor, Eyal Yinon, and others, he has decided to go ahead and hold the election for the presidency of Israel on Tuesday, as planned.
Edelstein said that in the last 24 hours, he has received numerous requests from Knesset Members and jurists, who had various words of advice for him, including requests to postpone the election.
"The bad atmosphere that continues to envelop this race causes dissatisfaction from the process and casts a dark shadow on the contenders and the Knesset,” he added.
"The first citizen must also be the first in his honesty, his trustworthiness and his morality, and reach the post of president in the most honest and clean way,” Edelstein explained. “We must do everything within our power to ensure that this is the case.
"Regrettably, it is undeniable that in the present climate, the elections for president will be lacking in any ceremonial or respectable dimension – as they should be. And yet, with a deep sense of foreboding regarding what the future may hold, I have decided to leave the original date for elections unchanged,” MK Edelstein concluded.
MK Binyamin Ben Eliezer (Labor), who was the Labor party's preferred candidate for president, withdrew from the race Saturday after police interrogated him on suspicion of receiving funds illegally. The questioning took place Firday and lasted for five hours, after which he was released.
He is reportedly suspected of having received large sums of money from several factors, including from wealthy businessman Avraham Nanikashvili, who was recently questioned in connection with another case related to corruption at the Ashdod Port.
The candidate whose “dark shadow” is causing MK Edlestein “foreboding” is not necessarily Ben Eliezer, however. Edelstein appears to be referring to the candidate who profited from leaking the suspicions against Ben Eliezer to the press – and from there to the police – just in time to torpedo his candidacy. It is not known whether the leaks were made by the same people who leaked suspicions of sexual misconduct against another candidate, Silvan Shalom, causing him to bow out of the race as well.
Both disqualifications took place as the race was nearing the finish line and other candidates stand to benefit from the last-minute withdrawals.