The deadline to submit candidacies for the position of president of Israel ended at midnight on Tuesday, and former foreign minister David Levy’s name is not on the list.
Six candidates met throughout the day with Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein and presented their candidacy: MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud), MK Meir Sheetrit (Hatnua), MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Nobel Laureate Professor Dan Shechtman, and former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner.
Levy announced Tuesday afternoon that he would not be running. His associates said that Levy’s decision was made when he realized he would not be able to garner enough support to be elected.
Earlier Tuesday, Edelstein estimated that that there may be last-minute surprises in the list of candidates' names.
"My feeling is that there will still be surprises, the nerves here are fraught,” the speaker told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview. “I said that I am afraid to turn off the phone for a few minutes, lest some new candidates present themselves,” he added half-humorously.
Levy’s decision not to run means that there is no candidate on the list who is being backed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Although Rivlin, being from the Likud, would be a natural candidate for Netanyahu to support, Netanyahu has been making desperate maneuvers to try and prevent Rivlin from being elected, given the bad history between them.
Some reports have suggested that Netanyahu may back Itzik, but that has yet to be confirmed or denied.
On Monday, opposition leader MK Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) mocked Netanyahu over his failure to endorse one of the candidates in the presidential election.
Herzog jokingly said that Netanyahu, in an attempt to prevent Rivlin from being elected, should suggest that Pope Francis contend for the position.
Herzog also reiterated that the Labor party “fully” supports the candidacy of Ben-Eliezer.