Rivlin in pole position to succeed Peres as Israel’s next president


Six candidates remain in the race to be Israel's next president as the list closed today.

The candidates who managed to collect the necessary ten signatures of Knesset members include three serving MKs.

Former Speaker Rubi Rivlin (Likud) is widely regarded the front-runner, although he has not been endorsed as his party's official candidate.

Labour's candidate is former Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Hatnuah's candidate is Meir Sheetrit.

Another former speaker, ex-MK Dalya Itzik, is also being seen as a formidable candidate due to her close ties to many of the MKs who will choose the president on June 10, although she is also the least popular of the candidates with the public according to recent polls.

The two non-politician candidates - Nobel Prize-winner Professor Dan Shecthman and former Supreme Court judge and president of the Press Council Dalya Dorner - are seen as outsiders by some distance. Few believe that either will make it to the second round of voting should no candidate receive the necessary majority in the first round.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will support any of the candidates.

Efforts continue to bridge over the deep hostility between the PM and his party colleague Mr Rivlin, but the two have yet to meet.

Over the past week, Mr Netanyahu has tried to persuade former Foreign Minister David Levy to run as his endorsed candidate, but to no avail. At this stage, it may even be better for Mr Rivlin if he does not receive an endorsement as the two Charedi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, whose members are friendly with him, have both announced that they will not vote for the prime minister's candidate in protest over the National Service law.

The elected candidate will replace Shimon Peres as president on July 27.

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