David Levy Touted As Possible Candidate for Israeli Presidency

Senior Likud activists have launched a campaign to nominate former Foreign Minister David Levy as the party’s candidate for the presidency, once President Chaim Herzog concludes his term of office next year.

In an interesting twist, the group backing Levy is headed by Yisrael Katz, a former aide of Ariel Sharon, a political rival of Levy’s. The group sent letters last week proposing the idea to members of Likud’s Central Committee.

Levy himself has not officially reacted to the proposal, but the fact that heads of his camp, such as Yavneh Mayor Yehuda Brus, described Levy as the right candidate for the job, was interpreted as an indication that he would not say no.

According to the Levy lobby, he was the right person for the job because he symbolized a national consensus, as a man who can bridge communal gaps. Levy is a Sephardic Jew in a leadership circle dominated by Ashkenazim and is considered a member of Likud’s more dovish camp.

Levy’s supporters argue that their candidate could enjoy the support of Labor, the religious parties and even the Arab parties and Meretz. They recalled that Herzog, a member of Labor’s more hawkish camp, was elected to office in 1983 years ago thanks to the support of the right.

Another surprising candidacy that is reportedly being considered is that of Brig. Gen. (Res.) Nahman Shai, who is being proposed as Labor’s candidate for mayor of Jerusalem, once Teddy Kollek retires.

Shai won fame serving as army spokesman during the Persian Gulf War.

Kollek himself is not too happy with the idea. He said that although he holds Shai in esteem, he believes that his candidacy should be considered only after Shai acquires several years of municipal experience.

Kollek’s own candidate is Amos Mar-Haim, the present deputy mayor.

The Likud is considering running former Health Minister Ehud Olmert as its candidate for the mayoralty.

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