Israel’s Next President Will Be Elected March 22 and Be Sworn into Office May 5

The Knesset Presidium has decided that Israel’s next President–its sixth–will be elected by the Knesset on March 22 and will be sworn into office on May 5. He will succeed President Yitzhak Navon who has announced that be will not seek re-election when his term expires in April.

Several Knesset members of both opposition and coalition factions are urging Navon to reconsider. A spokesman for the President replied that his decision was final.

Israeli law requires the Knesset to elect a President not more than 90 days or less than 30 days before the incumbent’s term expires. The announcement of the election date today is expected to trigger a new round of political bargaining. There was a flurry of such activity after Navon announced his intentions earlier this month but it was overshadowed by the repercussions of the report of the commission of inquiry into the Beirut refugee camps massacre.

A number of candidates have been mentioned to succeed Navon. The front runner at the moment appears to be Interior Minister Yosef Burg, a veteran leader of the National Religious Party.

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