Netanyahu to take on role of president?

With barely a month to go before the Knesset is due to elect a new president to replace Shimon Peres, rumours are mounting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in cancelling the presidency — which would leave the prime minister as head of state.

Although former Knesset Speaker Reuven “Rubi” Rivlin is hoping to become Likud’s official candidate, he has long been estranged from the prime minister and Mr Netanyahu has been trying for months to find a candidate more to his liking. He failed to persuade Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky to run.

Despite the investigation against Energy Minister Silvan Shalom over charges of sexual harassment being dropped, he is unlikely to resume his pursuit of the presidency.

The other main candidate is Labour’s Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defence minister.

In an interview this week, Mr Peres attacked plans to abolish the presidency saying that “there is no replacement for the president.

The prime minister has no time to invite guests here, it’s the president’s role to make friends outside [Israel] and friendship within.”

Last updated: 9:45pm, May 8 2014