A majority of the MKs who will be sworn in to the Knesset on Tuesday would vote for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be Israel’s next president, a senior Likud source close to Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post.
By law, the election for president must be held between April 9 and June 9, before President Reuven Rivlin’s seven-year term expires on July 9, 2021.
The politician closest to Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin, will set the date for the vote in the Knesset, which must be held at least three weeks after the date is announced.
The source revealed that there is also a majority in the new Knesset to change the law and switch the vote from a secret ballot to an open one, which could significantly increase the chances of Netanyahu’s election.
It would also help Netanyahu’s election chances because leaving the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street for the President’s Residence three blocks away could help end the two-and-a-half-year political stalemate.
If Netanyahu is no longer leader of the Likud, the party would hold a snap primary among its members, and whoever wins could easily form a stable, center-right coalition comprised of the 73 MK’s.
These would include Likud, Shas, Blue and White, United Torah Judaism, Yamina, New Hope and the Religious Zionist Party.
One complication that could prevent Netanyahu from running is that it is legally unclear whether the law preventing a president from being prosecuted would apply to a new president who is already under indictment and on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
Another technical possibility is that Levin could refuse to initiate the race for president. When Rivlin’s term ends, it would be up to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to determine whether Levin would then become acting president.
If Netanyahu is elected president, he would join Shimon Peres as the only two leaders to have served as both prime minister and president.
Other candidates are expected to include former Labor Party ministers Isaac Herzog, Amir Peretz and Shimon Sheetrit, Likud MK Yehudah Glick and perhaps Israel Prize-winning educator Miriam Peretz and singer Yehoram Gaon.
Jerusalem Post / ABC Flash Point News 2021.