For weeks now, political analysts have been having a field day watching the political scrambles as Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu has been doing everything in his power to avoid supporting MK and former Knesset Speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin (Likud) as President.
The intensive attempts to end the position of President altogether or at least to postpone this election, now scheduled for early in June, have ostensibly been behind the scenes, but in actuality, they have been very much in the public eye, and frankly, it’s been quite an embarrassing display of political maneuvering.
This has been followed by intensive meetings held by the PM with alternative possible candidates such as Minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) and rumors abound that Netanyahu may even support former Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, despite the fact that she was an MK from the left of center Labor and Kadima parties and was never in Netanyahu’s Likud. In short, anyone but Rivlin.
The short-answer is yes, but such a change can't be ethically enacted just before an election. To do so would be correctly perceived as political opportunism, especially if Netanyahu is the initiator.
This leaves Israel’s Prime Minister with only one sensible option – to act as a statesman rather than a petty politician. Everyone in the Knesset, not to mention the Likud and other members of the ruling coalition, knows that Ruby Rivlin is the leading candidate. He is well-liked as a person and clearly gained great respect for his dignity and fairness as Knesset Speaker, with those attributes recognized across the political spectrum.
The time has come for Ruby and Bibi to meet for cup of coffee, if not for lunch, and to work out whatever personality differences or conflicts have led them to this dilemma. Such a simple solution should reasonably be expected of any two adults in a position of responsibility, but all the more so for the Prime Minister and the potential President of Israel.
It would also be a positive example for every citizen of Israel. And that’s good politics.
David Rubin is former mayor of Shiloh, Israel. He is founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund and the author of several books, including Peace for Peace and The Islamic Tsunami. He can be found at www.DavidRubinIsrael.com or at www.ShilohIsraelChildren.org.